Marie Curie and Her Daughters: The Private Lives of Science’s First Family

Written by Shelley Emling
Review by Tess Heckel

Marie Curie is famous for her discovery of the scientific element, radium, which changed the world and for which she, along with her husband, Pierre, won a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903. Widowed very young, Marie prevailed in her strenuous radiation research while raising her daughters, Irene and Eve, while fighting the obstacles of being a woman and an immigrant in France. Irene, also a scientist, earned a Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1935. Eve, never pressured to follow her family’s path, became a foreign correspondent and humanitarian. Because Marie Curie’s fame was in the forefront, her daughters’ accomplishments are not as well known, until now. Based on Marie’s letters, and recent interviews with her granddaughter, Hélène, as well as family photographs, Shelley Emling’s book pulls together the lives and accomplishments of all the Curie women into a very engrossing biography. In the most exciting era of progressive scientists and inventors, Curies’ visits to the United States to obtain radium for experiments were flooded with well-wishers, supporters and hopeful female scientists. Emling’s work does a remarkable job of balancing scientific information and personal history by intertwining the human side of the Curie women with their contributions to science.