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The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady Hardcover – February 8, 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 91 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Glowing with dark humor, Stuckey-French's fabulously quirky second novel (after Mermaids on the Moon) spotlights a wild would-be killer: Marylou Ahearn, a 77-year-old retired teacher in Memphis, Tenn. She's obsessed with killing Dr. Wilson Spriggs, who gave pregnant Marylou a radioactive cocktail in 1953 during a secret government study. Helen, the daughter Marylou gave birth to, died in 1963 from cancer. Accompanied by her Welsh corgi, Buster, and as "Nancy Archer" (the heroine of the 1958 movie Attack of the 50 Foot Woman), Marylou moves in 2006 to Tallahassee, Fla., where Wilson lives with his daughter, menopausal Caroline; her husband, Vic Witherspoon, who's contemplating an affair, and their children: 18-year-old Elvis-obsessed beauty Ava; 16-year-old science geek Otis, who's secretly building a nuclear breeder reactor; and overachieving, attention-deprived 13-year-old Suzi. As "Radioactive Lady," Nance creates mucho mischief for Wilson, but her revenge plans mutate after discovering the old doc has Alzheimer's, and dang it, she really likes his kinfolk. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

If revenge is a dish best served cold, then Marylou Ahearn’s feelings for Dr. Wilson Spriggs should, after 50 years, be just about frozen. But at age 77, Marylou realizes she’s running out of time if she wants to make Spriggs pay for his role in a 1950s covert government medical-research project that gave unsuspecting pregnant women like herself a radioactive cocktail that resulted in the premature cancer death of her eight-year-old daughter. Discovering that Spriggs now lives in Florida with his daughter and teenage grandchildren, Marylou abandons her Memphis home, moves to Spriggs’ neighborhood, and adopts the persona of Nancy Archer, best known to B-movie fans everywhere as the infamous “50-Foot Woman.” Marylou/Nancy’s mission is to kill Spriggs, but the reality is that she’s just a nice little old lady, not an overly large woman with super powers. Instead, she decides to wreak havoc upon the lives of Spriggs’ family, to hilarious, and often sobering, ends in this broadly comic, yet essentially heartfelt, absurdist satire. --Carol Haggas

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1ST edition (February 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385510640
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385510646
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 1.4 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,199,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on December 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
With its colorful title and kitschy cover design, I wasn't sure what to expect from Elizabeth Stuckey-French's new novel "The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady." The retro allure of the book seemed at odds with an advance blurb referencing, of all things, the film "Little Miss Sunshine." Well, the "Sunshine" comparison really does the book no favors--the two couldn't be more dissimilar other than the fact that they're both populated by a quirky family of dysfunction. Taking its cue from a devastatingly real tragedy, "Radioactive Lady" manages to be pleasingly heartfelt and slyly amusing. I credit Stuckey-French for attempting to meld this serio-comic romp onto a story that, more often than not, would have been played as dire drama. In fact, the notion that the novel was so light in tone was off-putting at first, but I eventually let the premise give way to a cast of likable and relatable characters (not necessarily an easy task in a book filled with eccentricities).

"Radioactive Lady" tells the story of Marylou Ahearn, an elderly lady, still reeling from the death of her daughter decades in the past. While pregnant in the fifties, Marylou had unwittingly been used as a guinea pig in a medical study exploring the effects of radiation. By happenstance, Marylou has located the doctor directly involved (oh, the invention of Google) and has set herself on a course of revenge and retribution. Renamed Nancy Archer, an homage to the sci-fi film "Attack of the 50-foot Woman," she heads off to pursue her darkest ambition. Insinuating herself into Dr.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This nifty book was a pleasure from start to finish. How Elizabeth Stuckey-French accomplished this story with all the characters, back-story, elements, and plots and tied them up into this wonderful package is quite a feat. This is quite a different novel.

Marylou Ahearn, aka Nance Archer, aka The Radioactive Lady - moved to Tallahassee for the sole purpose of revenge. The recipient of the revenge is a doctor she'd had an experience with years ago that altered her life, however, the old man lives hidden inside of a household full of his dysfunctional family members and is going senile. Vic, his son in law, buries himself in his work and has an odd obsession with hurricanes while his wife, miserable and unhappy cares for their two nearly grown Asberger children, Otis and Ava, and their youngest 'normal' daughter Suzi. Wilson Spriggs, the old doctor who Marylou is fixated on killing lives a life of day to day confusion in their midst.

Marylou or Nance, as they know her, has moved into a house in their neighborhood and weasles her way into becoming a family friend. Nance schemes of ways to destroy them all, well, inbetween helping them in some form or another. It's all pretty crazy, and you'll have to read the book to find out what exactly happens since there is a story about each one of them.

This book is just a fun read which is hard to admit with the seriousness of the underlying reason that Marylou goes to Tallahassee with her Corgi, Buster, to enact her revenge on an old man, that and some of the other monstrous things that occur in this book are of a serious nature, but Stuckey-French manages it all with a more than human edge and wonderful sense of humor and a good grasp of marital and family relations.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I don't read slice of life dramatic books. Especially anything that's shelved in the Literature/Fiction aisle. I used to, I read Brothers Karamazov, The Stranger, Rabbit at Rest, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe and many other fiction titles when I was in school. But once I hit the big city - Santa Rosa - and bigger libraries and used book stores, I started to read more, shall we say, sensational fiction titles. Books with the word Dead, Undead, Love and Vampire in them. Maybe moving out on my own made me yearn for more fantasy in my fiction, I don't know and could spend forever pondering my love of romantic, horrific or mysterious books over more serious literary fare.

So, when I say that this book is a departure from my usual reading choices, I really mean it. The fact that I kept with the story straight through to the end is pretty strange too, because I thought this was a book about a woman with a supernatural power caused by exposure to radiation. Hilarious, right? Let's just say I was in a hurry to pick out a book and the title and cover art won me over.

From the start of the book, I was sucked into the seething rage and sadness of the heroine, Marylou whose life was irrevocably changed when she was an unwitting participant in a medical experiment when she was pregnant with her first child. From this point on you see how this event, the tiny cup of gritty pink liquid and her fixation on the handsome young doctor in charge of the experiment shape her life.

It isn't hard to sympathize with Marylou, she's been wronged in such a hurtful and tragic way that I almost quit the book when I found out the object of her murderous fantasies had dementia.
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