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CHARLES AND EMMA by Deborah Heiligman

CHARLES AND EMMA

The Darwins’ Leap of Faith

By Deborah Heiligman

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8050-8721-5
Publisher: Henry Holt

This rich, insightful portrait of Charles and Emma Darwin’s marriage explores a dimension of the naturalist’s life that has heretofore been largely ignored. Emma was devoutly religious while Charles’s agnosticism increased as he delved deeper into his studies of natural history, but they did not let this difference come between them. While unable to agree with Charles’s theory that essentially eliminated God from the process of creation, Emma remained open-minded and supportive, even reading drafts of The Origin of Species and suggesting improvements. Using excerpts from correspondence, diaries and journals, Heiligman portrays a relationship grounded in mutual respect. The narrative conveys a vivid sense of what life was like in Victorian England, particularly the high infant mortality rate that marred the Darwins’ happiness and the challenges Charles faced in deciding to publish his controversial theory. While this book does not serve as an introduction to Darwin’s life and ideas, readers wanting to know more will discover two brilliant thinkers whose marital dialectic will provide rich fodder for discussions of science and faith. (introduction, source notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 12 & up)