In Poland in 1891, Marie Curie (then Marya Sklodowska) was engaged to mathematician Kazimierz Zorawski. But when his mother insisted she was not good enough, he broke off the engagement, and a heartbroken Marya left for Paris, where she attended the Sorbonne to study chemistry and physics. Eventually, as Marie Curie, she would change the course of science forever and be the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. But what if she had made a different choice? Through parallel versions of Marya's life, Jillian Cantor's novel probes issues of gender and class, fame and anonymity, and asks what would have happened if a great scientific mind was denied access to education.