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Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith…

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith (original 2009; edition 2011)

by Deborah Heiligman

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5969716,462 (3.96)26
Title:Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith
Authors:Deborah Heiligman
Info:Square Fish (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Non-fiction, Biography, Darwin, Evolution

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Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman (2009)

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A fascinating look at Charles Darwin and his life, with an emphasis on how he came to marry Emma Wedgewood and how their life together was a major part of his work. This biography covers his life from childhood, to the amusing (to us) list he wrote, after his voyage on the Beagle, of the pros and cons "Marry" and "Not Marry" ("This is the Question"), when he was contemplating that question, to their family and to the very end of their long lives. It was very readable, with a great deal of quotes from Charles and Emma's writings, public and private, as well as from their friends and relatives, and you get a wonderful sense of their personalities, hopes and fears. How they both agonized over the religious implications of his theory of evolution; Emma wanted him to believe more strongly so that she could be comforted that when they died they'd be together again in Heaven. But he always had a conflict in his mind about God and religion. I enjoyed "meeting" the Darwins in this book, and felt I better understood him and his theories, and how important they are to the world, after reading it.

reviewed in 2009 ( )
  GoldieBug | Sep 19, 2015 |
RGG: Award winning biography of the Darwins. Integrating science, theology, and cultural and domestic history, this is in-depth, but readable nonfiction. The complexity of the science and historical cultural references makes this more appropriate for older adolescents. Reading Interest: YA.
  rgruberhighschool | Jun 11, 2015 |
Somehow I had the impression this was a story based on facts, and for adults. No, it's straight non-fiction, and for ages 12-13 up. Fascinating, though. A tiny bit long on 'this happened and then this happened' and a tiny bit short on the dilemma of the marriage of religion & science, but still an enlightening joy to read.

ETA - forgot to mention the frequent deaths and chronic illnesses. Interesting how each dealt with all the challenges. Apparently Charles was sick with migraines, I've learned since I've read this. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
It was that day, by the fire, that their story really began. In the library at Maer, they had made a leap, though not over class lines or parental objections. They had made a leap to marry even though they had one big difference between them that could stand in the way of their happiness. Page 59

In this cute biography of Charles Darwin, most famously known for his ideas of evolution and natural selection, we get a glimpse of his private life. His struggle in deciding whether marriage would be beneficial is counterbalanced by his turmoil over publishing a scandalous theory that would turn the scientific community on its head and the constant conflict between science and religion in his own personal life. Filled with actual photographs of people and places, the book also was enlightening in shedding some insight into the brilliant man behind the science, the loving husband behind the marriage, and the doting father behind all the children he would come to bear. The book is geared towards a younger audience, making it completely readable while also being informative. ( )
  jolerie | Apr 12, 2015 |
Absolutely loved this! Thought-provoking, engaging, readable, and very, very moving. This real-life romance is now one of my all-time favorites, up there with that of Maud Hart Lovelace and Delos Lovelace. I was left with a profound respect for the relationship between Charles and Emma, and how they balanced their differences and built a life together. This is also the fourth book I've ever read that's made me tear up (without involving something sad happening to a dog).

All the excerpts from letters, details of the Darwin's home life, etc so very interesting and eye-opening: the household routines, the pet names, the foibles and strengths of the family members. I highly recommend this to anyone with an interest in the dialog between science and theology, and also to those with an interest in nineteenth century life.

( )
  devafagan | Jan 2, 2015 |
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... she [Emma] wrote, "The sincerity of showing yourself as you really are.  The real good it would do the world not to have artificial sins." (163)
Charles had written in one of his notebooks, "Definition of happiness the number of pleasant ideas passing through mind in given time."  Now he found happiness not just in his mind; he found it in real life. (93)
They borrowed some novels from the library, starting a lifelong tradition of reading together--usually Emma read to Charles while he rested from his work.  Charles liked novels with happy endings, and he once wrote, "I often bless all novelists.  A surprising number have been read aloud to me... and I like all if moderately good, and passed.  A novel, according to my taste, does not come into the first class unless it contains some person whom one can thoroughly love, and if it be a pretty woman all the better." (91)
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Charles Darwin and his wife, Emma, were deeply in love and very supportive of each other, but their opinions often clashed. Emma was extremely religious, and Charles questioned God's very existence.

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