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Publisher's Summary

The USA Today best-selling author of In Another Time reimagines the pioneering, passionate life of Marie Curie using a parallel structure to create two alternative timelines, one that mirrors her real life, one that explores the consequences for Marie and for science if she’d made a different choice.

In Poland in 1891, Marie Curie (then Marya Sklodowska) was engaged to a budding mathematician, Kazimierz Zorawski. But when his mother insisted she was too poor and not good enough, he broke off the engagement. A heartbroken Marya left Poland for Paris, where she would attend the Sorbonne to study chemistry and physics. Eventually Marie Curie would go on to change the course of science forever and be the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. But what if she had made a different choice? 

What if she had stayed in Poland, married Kazimierz at the age of 24, and never attended the Sorbonne or discovered radium? What if she had chosen a life of domesticity with a constant hunger for knowledge in Russian Poland where education for women was restricted, instead of studying science in Paris and meeting Pierre Curie? 

Entwining Marie Curie’s real story with Marya Zorawska’s fictional one, Half Life explores loves lost and destinies unfulfilled - and probes issues of loyalty and identity, gender and class, motherhood and sisterhood, fame and anonymity, scholarship and knowledge. Through parallel contrasting versions of Marya’s life, Jillian Cantor’s unique historical novel asks what would have happened if a great scientific mind was denied opportunity and access to education. It examines how the lives of one remarkable woman and the people she loved - as well as the world at large and course of science and history - might have been irrevocably changed in ways both great and small.

©2021 Jillian Cantor (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Half Life

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Another fascinating read by Jillian Cantor

I was not only entertained by cantor’s outstanding storytelling, but also enlightened by her her historical account of Marie Curie’s amazing life.

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Exceptional!

This book held my attention from the very first sentence all the way to the last. It was quite thought-provoking and I will be thinking about it for some time.

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This needs to be a movie!

Love the book, narrator and author. I’m a big fan of Jillian Cantor and this book was phenomenal. Great love story between real life and what if.

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Summary

I really enjoyed this book. It was very interesting and well received. Makes you think what if i had done things differently in my life.