01 April 2010

Charles and Emma : The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman

Much is known about the work Charles Darwin has done to research natural selection and evolution, most notably through the publication of his The Origin of Species. And although an autobiography was released after his death, less is known about his life at home. When Charles Darwin was first considering marriage, his father advised him not to tell his prospective wife of his scientific beliefs, which often directly challenged the belief in God. Darwin was a scientific adventurer; everywhere he went and everything he did revolved around a quest for more information and led to the gathering of more observations and theories. Most of these theories centered on refuting a key notion that many people accepted as fact in the mid-1800’s: “that God had created all species of birds, bees, and beetles at once and that there were no new ones since the first creation” (p. 11). Darwin did not take his father’s advice on marriage, and in fact shared most everything with his wife, Emma, and she became his constant companion and supporter in both life and his work. Deeply-religious Emma clung to the faith that only those who believed in God could spend Eternity in Heaven, and though she couldn't be sure that she would meet Charles there, she never gave up on him. This story – first and foremost – presents an account of Charles and Emma’s deep mutual love, commitment, and respect.

Written in a style that is smooth and quick-paced, this story tells of a lifetime of love, faith, and science. Recommended to readers of all ages.
Call number: YA 506.82 HEI

Reviewed by kate the librarian

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