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Virtual Author Event: Jill Cantor in conversation with Marie Benedict
Wednesday, March 31 at 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Join us for a wonderful afternoon: Jill Cantor in conversation with Marie Benedict!
Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you took one path over another? If you walked left instead of right down that road? That is what USA Today bestselling author Jillian Cantor explores in her new novel Half Life (Harper Perennial; on-sale: March 23, 2021). This reimagining of the pioneering, passionate life of Marie Curie uses parallel narratives to illuminate how one choice could change not only the course of Marie’s life but also that of science, history, and the world.
Poland, 1891. Marya Sklodowska is engaged to a budding mathematician, Kazimierz Zorawski. But his mother’s disapproval leads to the engagement being broken off and Marya’s heart shattered. With the encouragement from her family and dreams of education, Marya leaves Poland for Paris, where she attends the Sorbonne to study chemistry and physics, and eventually becomes the Marie Curie who changes the course of science forever and is the first woman to win the Nobel Prize.
But what if, in 1891, Marya had made a different choice? What if she had stayed in Poland and married Kazimierz, in spite of his mother’s protests? What if she had never attended the Sorbonne or discovered radium?
In one world Marya embeds herself further in domesticity with a constant hunger for knowledge in Russian Poland yet struggles to live beyond her role as a wife and eventual mother because she is restricted as a woman. In the world we know, Marie is introduced to Pierre Curie in Paris and begins working with him in the lab. As Marya runs a covert women’s university in Poland, Marie has a scientific breakthrough in Paris, but then she is struck with a deep personal tragedy. Both versions of Marie Curie question loves lost and destinies unfulfilled. Heartbreak and yearning for more follows both women through two very different lives.
What unravels is the story of a woman moored by loyalty and identity, gender and class, motherhood and sisterhood, fame and anonymity, and scholarship and knowledge. Imaginative and written with vivid prose encompassing the most powerful human emotions, Half Life asks, what would become of a great scientific mind without opportunity and access to education, and how might the world at large—and the lives of Marya and the people she loved—have been changed?
Jillian Cantor has a BA in English from Penn State University and an MFA from the University of Arizona. She is the author of award-winning and bestselling novels for teens and adults, including THE HOURS COUNT, MARGOT, and THE LOST LETTER, which was a USA Today Bestseller. IN ANOTHER TIME, her latest historical novel, was a March 2019 Indie Next pick. Born and raised in a suburb of Philadelphia, Cantor currently lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.
Entwining Marie Curie’s real story and Marya Zorawska’s fictional one, Half Life explores the consequences one choice can have on the history of the woman we think we know. This beautifully written and emotive story is perfect for historical fiction lovers.
Marie Benedict is a lawyer with more than ten years’ experience as a litigator at two of the country’s premier law firms, who found her calling unearthing the hidden historical stories of women. Her mission is to excavate from the past the most important, complex and fascinating women of history and bring them into the light of present-day where we can finally perceive the breadth of their contributions as well as the insights they bring to modern day issues. Her latest release is The Mystery of Mrs. Christie.