The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckey-French

I’ve been accused of having “weird” taste in reading material—I prefer to think of it as eclectic. I’ve also been accused of never meeting a book I didn’t like. That’s just not true….well, it’s usually not true. I prefer to think of it as being an optimistic reader with eclectic taste. I can almost always find something I enjoyed in a book,unlike my boss who is like Mikey from the old Life cereal commercials—he hates everything! But I digress.
      It is true that I have read some unusual books. Stiff-The Secret Life of Cadavers comes to mind. Non-fiction and really quite interesting.(I don’t mind the blood and guts stuff!) The Rhino with Glue-On Shoes—yes, really!—-another non-fiction choice and honestly, who could resist that title? And how about Perfume-a strange little book that my neighborhood book club will never let me live down. I really, really liked it—very well translated and, I thought, a fascinating tale. (Don’t compare it to the movie of the same name-I’ve heard it’s BAD!) But I digress.
      So, with all that said I’m going to review another book you probably haven’t heard being discussed around the water cooler—The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckey-French. Again, who can resist that title?
      This is a hilarious, yet often sobering piece of VERY dark comedy. It revolves around seventy-seven year old Marylou Ahearn and her plotting revenge on Dr. Wilson Spriggs. She has decided to kill him, come hell or high water, for leading a government study in which pregnant women were unknowingly given radioactive cocktails. In Marylou’s case, there were horrible consequences.
      After fifty years of planning revenge she finally locates the doctor living with his daughter’s family in Florida and her plan begins to take shape-sort of. She moves into his neighborhood, takes on an alias, and begins to insinuate herself into their lives. However, what appears outwardly to be an idyllic family situation turns out to be anything but perfect.
      The cast of characters is beyond quirky. There’s the doctor himself-now senile-who may or may not remember the government study, a granddaughter struggling with Asperger’s Syndrome who is obsessed with all things Elvis, another nerdy teenager who is building a breeder reactor in the backyard shed, a husband who may or may not be having an affair with a co-worker, and….well, you get the picture.
      To make matters even more interesting every plot Marylou comes up with for revenge backfires—sometimes comically, sometimes tragically. Her biggest problem is that she actually begins to like the family—not exactly the best emotion to have when planning revenge by death.
      And so readers, I’ll leave you to it——take a chance, read something a little off the beaten path! Who knows—you might enjoy this surprisingly touching, laugh out loud funny, strange little book.

~ Judy

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