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Fact & fiction,
This review is from: Story of Blanche and Marie (Paperback)
Per Olov Enquist is an acclaimed Swedish writer who was awarded an Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for one of his earlier books. However, I couldn't quite get absorbed in The Story of Blanche and Marie. Per Olov Enquist. This is the story of Blanche Wittmann who was committed to hospital for 16 years and who, after all this time, 'graduated' from patient to assistant to the famous Professor Charcot. Blanche eventually joined Marie Curie to work in her laboratory. Blanche ended up being utterly captivated by the discovered radium and kept a glass vial of radium salts on her bedside table. This exposure to radiation led to the amputation of three of her limbs.
How gruesome and how true! Enquist paints the picture of Marie's and Blanche's unusual relationship by using Blanche's notebooks "The Book of Questions" and by connecting her account with what he, as the author, imagined could have happened. Whilst the real story of Blanche and Marie is heart breaking and powerful, I found that the 'weaving' of fiction and fact elements in this book was not well executed. I tried, but simply found it difficult to be drawn into the story.
Christine Maingard, Author of 'Think Less Be More:Mental Detox for Everyone'