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The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady Hardcover – February 8, 2011
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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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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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
Top customer reviews
What makes the novel so exceptional is the tremendous innovation employed by its author. It is a tour de force in the vein of As I Lay Dying, a novel in which Faulkner employs multiple points of view to narrate a riot of a plot. So, too, does Elizabeth Stuckey-French in the RAL: each chapter is told from the point of view of one of the several characters, but, unlike the Faulkner work (which uses first person), this book's author opts for a third person point of view, a technique which she uses with all the deftness of a Tolstoy or George Eliot. Thus the reader is given a panoramic view of the embittered Radioactive Lady as well as all the ins and outs, failed dreams and broken hearts of the Spriggs family themselves. The characters are numerous and brilliant, each alive with all the bitterness and brokenness and, yes, hopefulness contained in the novel's main character. This is a highly entertaining work that evokes so completely the absurdity and heartache of modern American life, and this is one reader who after finishing the book is setting it down with a look of suspicion and mild envy on his face: for the author is my teacher at Florida State, and I would love to write something as good as this someday.
What I Liked:
- The premise itself is entertaining
- The characters are interesting; their back stories are somewhat developed and their lives intertwine nicely. There is someone that you can relate to. I thought the father's section was particularly interesting, as a teacher. He works for the state's assessment department, something I hear about frequently.
- The randomness is entertaining- the radioactive thread carries throughout in different ways.
- Quick, easy read
- The writing is nothing amazing; pretty basic stuff.
- The ending is a little too tidy for me...
It's definitely a fun book; I think as a beach read or for a plane ride it would be perfect.
Most recent customer reviews
The father, Vic is on the verge of starting an affair.Read more