HomeGroupsTalkExploreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

The Dolphin House

by Audrey Schulman

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations
811,946,875 (4)None
Based on the true story of the 1965 "dolphin house" experiment, this spellbinding novel captures the tenor of the social experiments of the 1960's in award-winning author Audrey Schulman's tightly paced and evocative style. It is 1965, and Cora, a young, hearing impaired woman, buys a one-way ticket to the island of St. Thomas, where she discovers four dolphins held in captivity as part of an experiment led by the obsessive Dr. Blum. Drawn by a strong connection to the dolphins, Cora falls in with the scientists and discovers her need to protect the animals. Recognizing Cora's knack for communication, Blum uses her for what will turn into one of the most fascinating experiments in modern science: an attempt to teach the dolphins human language by creating a home in which she and a dolphin can live together. As the experiment progresses, Cora forges a remarkable bond with the creatures, until her hard-won knowledge clashes with the male-dominated world of science. As a terrible scandal threatens to engulf the experiment, Cora's fight to save the dolphins becomes a battle to save herself.… (more)
Zoology (40)
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

There was a time when a male-dominated, rigidly hierarchical scientific community conducted experiments with little regard for animal welfare. This led to the development of ethical guidelines for the use of animals in research. Today, scientists are forced to consider alternatives to the use of animals in research, reducing their numbers, minimizing suffering and especially recognizing the dignity of sentient experimental animals. This novel is a fictionalized account of an actual research project that took place in the 60’s when such guidelines did not exist. A lay person, hired by a scientist, becomes appalled by the horrifying and exploitative nature his research project. With little recourse, she is forced to make a profound compromise to mitigate the damages. The outcome stands as a powerful example of communication and trust that can develop between humans and animals.

Cora quits her waitressing job in Florida and moves to St. Thomas with no goals in mind. Her hearing impairment has given her a special talent for communication. Recognizing this, Blum, a Harvard professor studying dolphins, hires her to oversee their welfare. However, he seems more interested in obtaining funding for his ill-conceived research and experimenting with psychedelic experiences than conducting real science. Blum’s male collaborators have similar shortcomings characterized by excessive alcohol consumption and casual sexism. They see Cora as unqualified because of her lack of formal training in research and, especially her failure to quantify her observations.

The plot involves Cora’s growing appreciation of dolphin behavior. She slowly begins bonding with four captive dolphins. Clearly, this becomes joyous for both Cora and the dolphins. After observing brutal surgeries with little obvious rationale or concern for the dolphins, Cora agrees to a compromise. The scientists will cease the surgeries if she assumes a mothering role for Junior, an adolescent male dolphin. The goal is to teach him to mimic human language. Obviously, Blum sees this plan as his ticket to fame and fortune. Cora and Junior are thus isolated together in a makeshift structure referred to as a “homearium.”

Schulman’s rambling narrative details the playful and mutual relationship that Cora develops with the dolphins, especially with Junior. Along the way, Schulman imparts some fascinating information about dolphin behaviors, like mating, sleeping, communicating, and even breathing. However, the most touching scenes come from the dolphins’ more human-like behaviors. The alpha male dies from something like “suicide” by deciding to just stop breathing. Junior has the need to suck on Cora’s toe before he can fall asleep. After Cora convinces Blum to free two females, their joy is wonderful. And especially Junior manipulates Cora into messaging his gums by assuring her that he will not bite by holding his mouth open using a ball. Notwithstanding its many strengths, this story suffers from its unfair characterization of the scientists and their families. They come across as self-involved, inhumane and lacking in the curiosity that is so evident in successful scientists. ( )
  ozzer | Mar 29, 2022 |
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Based on the true story of the 1965 "dolphin house" experiment, this spellbinding novel captures the tenor of the social experiments of the 1960's in award-winning author Audrey Schulman's tightly paced and evocative style. It is 1965, and Cora, a young, hearing impaired woman, buys a one-way ticket to the island of St. Thomas, where she discovers four dolphins held in captivity as part of an experiment led by the obsessive Dr. Blum. Drawn by a strong connection to the dolphins, Cora falls in with the scientists and discovers her need to protect the animals. Recognizing Cora's knack for communication, Blum uses her for what will turn into one of the most fascinating experiments in modern science: an attempt to teach the dolphins human language by creating a home in which she and a dolphin can live together. As the experiment progresses, Cora forges a remarkable bond with the creatures, until her hard-won knowledge clashes with the male-dominated world of science. As a terrible scandal threatens to engulf the experiment, Cora's fight to save the dolphins becomes a battle to save herself.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (4)
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5
3
3.5
4 1
4.5
5

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 180,212,757 books! | Top bar: Always visible