Charles and Emma: the Darwins' leap of faith

by kiya@evpl on Saturday, February 13 2010, 2:32pm. Viewed 1,087 times.

image of book jacketYesterday was Charles Darwin's birthday, and tomorrow is Valentine's Day. That makes it the perfect time to tell you about an enchanting book called Charles and Emma: the Darwins' leap of faith by Deborah Heilingman. Heilingman opens the book with the scene of Charles Darwin, newly returned from his voyages on the HMS Beagle, trying to decide whether a scientist so devoted to his work has any business getting married. Darwin wants a wife and a family, but he knows already what some of the implications of his work will mean to those close to him. Eventually he decides in favor of a family, and finds a bride in Emma, a cousin he has known and been comfortable with his entire life.  Their fondness for each other deepens into love, and they both find themselves happier than they had ever expected to be. Still, there are clouds in their life as well.  Like many families of their time, some of their children die young, and the grief tears at them. Those deaths also touched on one of the other tensions of their relationship: Emma was a Christian with firm beliefs in Heaven and Hell; Charles struggled with the traditional religious view in light of what he had learned from science. Still, despite the tensions these opposing world views brought to their life, their marriage remained a partnership, with Emma remaining one of his first and best readers and critics. Heililngman brings her subjects to life, helping the reader understand the importance and impact of Darwin's work.  The book is relatively short, and a quick read - I heartily recommmend it for a slightly different view of Darwin.


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gawell@evpl wrote
on Tuesday, February 16 2010, 10:56am

Funny how parallel lines can intersect.

Like a figure eight, or some degrees of separation.

In Darwin's Darkest Hours, Charles is portrayed by the actor who played, plays, will play Desmond Hume from 'Lost', Desmond Morris wrote the 'Naked Ape'and  philospher David Hume (originally David Home)who was more well known as a historian.