Monday, January 30, 2017

The Radium Girls, The Inquisitor's Tale, and the pesky blue/gold dress

Marie and Pierre Curie discovered radium in 1898 captivating scientists with is supernatural-like nature.  This stuff glowed and before long it was glowing on drug store shelves as an elixir promising happiness and health.

In the manufacturing world, this not yet defined as deadly substance was used to paint numerals on watch and clock faces making them glow in the dark.  Factories paid employees - mainly women - generously to paint the tiny numerals. When employers determined that too much of the radium power disolved when painters dipped brushes into pans of water, the women were told to wet the brushes in their mouths instead.  Employers assured the women the practice was safe.  In fact, the women believed so strongly in the safety of radium, that many painted their faces with it  before leaving work for a night on the town.  We know so much more now!

Kate Moore's interest in these women began upon discovering Melanie Marnich's play about a group on women in Ottawa living with the side effects of working with radium.  According to Moore, The Shining Women showcases "real women standing up for their rights with strength, dignity, courage..."

Before picking up The Radium Girls, I had made a small dent in this fun little young adult novel - young adult being my genre of choice for 2017...we'll see how that goes.  This book riffs on The Canterbury Tales which is just fine with me.  On a dark night in 1242, travelers at an inn begin to tell stories of three children, Jeanne, a peasant girl who sees the future, William, a young monk with supernatural strength, and Jacob, a Jewish boy who can heal wounds.  Oh, and there's a greyhound resurrected from the dead.

Silly giggle-worthy characters names dot the story, especially the Marcs.  There's Marc, then there's Son-of-Marc, and Father-of-Marc and numerous other combination.  Can't forget Peter the Priest who is married Ygraine "even though he's not supposed to have a wife, on account of him being a priest".  Silliness abounds and I can't wait to get back at it.

Totally unrelated story..remember the magic dress everyone was talking about a while back?  The one that was either blue or gold?  Well, I thought the entire thing was sort of goofy until my dog returned from the groomer last week with gold ribbons on her ears.  My neighbor, who always love to see GB after a haircut remarked on how nice the lavender ribbons looked against her deep, black.  I see gold.  She sees lavender.  I have tried to make the lavender appear, but nope...those ribbons are gold.  Maybe next week I'll post a picture to see what color you think the ribbons are.

Thanks for stopping by.