Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Day 6 of 7 Days of Books I Loved -- Marguerite, Madeleine and Marie

Day 6
Day 6 of books I loved. Marguerite. Madeline. Marie. These three women shaped the future of my life from early encounters with books in my beloved grade school and local library. Starting with "Misty of Chincoteague," the horse stories of Marguerite Henry marked my transition from chapter books to hardcover novels. Granted, the appealing illustrations by Wesley Dennis added lots of visual interest to Henry's wonderful writing. 

I read all the "Misty" stories. They were part of the group of books based on real-life people and places that made me want to learn more. I have many books about the real-life Misty, and the ponies of Assateague Island, in my library.
Below is a wonderful book about Misty.
This website for the Misty of Chincoteague Foundation has oodles of info on Misty, Marguerite and illustrator Wesley Dennis: http://www.mistyofchincoteague.org/

The first real novel I remember reading is the classic "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engele. 
I was intimidated by this book. It felt very grown-up, both in the lack of illustrations and heft of a book with smaller font on the pages. Not to mention the adventurous (for me) subject matter: a young girl on a sci-fi rescue mission. I felt like I was reading a classic book that had been read and loved by generations. Imagine my surprise years later when I learned it was first published only a few years before I read it.

This book has lingered with me, and I'm not alone. I attended a lecture by screenwriter Linda Wolverton years ago. She talked about the impact this book had on her --- and her experience of meeting the author and trying to adapt this challenging, very internal-narrative story. I never got to meet L'Engle but, thanks to Stuart, I do have a signed copy of her definitive work.. here are 3 pictures of it:
 The endpapers of this edition have a handy family tree of the L'Engele characters.
 L'Engle often used this inscription for signed books.

My first encounter with Madame Marie Curie must have come when I was venturing outside the kids section in my local main library, searching for unabridged editions of books I loved. At some point, I saw the striking cover of "Madame Curie" -- the consummate biography of this epic pioneer scientist. (I highly recommend this book. It's written with great beauty and sensitivity by her accomplished daughter Eve.) 
As a young reader, I felt it was a big book beyond me at that point. Still, something about it told me we'd meet again. It wasn't until my 40s that I finally read the book. It started me on a quest to learn more about the Curies and that amazing era of science.

Eve Curie was the Renaissance woman of the Curie family. She was a diplomat, adventurer, classical musician, model, and accomplished author. Her prose in this book is stunning -- and since she spoke fluent English I attribute it to her and not the translation. She lived to see her parents re-interred in the Pantheon. 

This is a portrait of Eve Curie by Philippe Pottier, circa 1937
 Eve Curie on the cover of Time, Feb 1940
 Eve the author and diplomat, 1960s
 Baby Eve in her mother Marie's lap, with her sister Irene.
Eve passed away in 2007 at the age of 102! Her will left money to the Musee Curie, which helped this gem of Paris undergo a much deserved, respectful renovation in the past few years. The rooms of the museum include Marie Curie's last office and adjacent laboratory. The grounds have a garden she enjoyed and was famously photographed enjoying a view of from the steps outside her lab. In an instagram-ready moment, a reproduction of this famous black and white photograph is placed where it was taken, ready for visitors to share with a selfie. There are a number of modern touches to this very accessible, family friendly institution. Still, it retains its aura of scholarly purpose and love of discovery that the Curie family personified. (photo below from the Musee Curie Facebook page)
Visit the Musee Curie online via their website:https://musee.curie.fr/

Here are two of my blog posts that document my visits to this extraordinary museum .

HERE'S THE LINK FOR DAY 7 -- "RECENT READS I RECOMMEND," IN CASE IT DOESN'T APPEAR NEXT http://stuartngbooks.blogspot.com/2019/06/7-days-of-books-i-have-loved-day-7.html

No comments: