I ordered _Galileo's Daughter_ on a whim. Wow. It was really, really good. The story is the story of the life of Galileo, and especially of his relationship with his older daughter, who is a nun with the convent name of Maria Celeste. The time period featured here is not one that I've ever been especially interested in. Nor did I know anything about Galileo, (beyond that Indigo Girls song and a conspiracy theory that someone told me when I was a teenager, that the Church actually knew already that the earth went around the sun, they just weren't ready for the public to know) or think that it was a lack in my life not to, but this book was riveting. Sobel did a great job of keeping you interested with the narrative and the letters from Maria Celeste to her father, without neglecting contextual information about the politics and church doctrine of the time. This book transformed my understanding of this period of Italian history. The idea of being arrested, tortured, or even executed for disagreeing with church doctrine is chilling. If you are interested in science, history, or the relationship between church and state, then order _Galileo's Daughter_ right away. Dava Sobel also wrote a similar book which I plan to investigate: _Longitude:The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time_. Five stars.
This book is a great combination of biography and memoir, and is told using a unique construction. The author has researched well the later life of Gallileo, and presents his story of experimentation, mathematics and presentation of Copernicus' earth-centric theory of the solar system and surrounding uproar in great detail, but interlaces those factual episodes with one half of a set of correspondence. She uses the surviving letters of his daughter to him during the latter half of his life to add to the dry facts the daily routine of his life and his concerns on more mundane things. Truly a unique combination of factual history and daily life.
I read this book after viewing a PBS special about Galileo, his troubles with the church, and his daughter. I knew his daughter was a nun and to support your father when your own "boss" is against him was mighty brave. I enjoyed this book. Very in-depth or what others might call tedious. Good read.
Linda C. (Seagull) reviewed Galileo's Daughter : A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love on
Helpful Score: 3
"Sobel is a master storyteller...What she has done, with her choice of excerpts and her strong sense of story, is bring a great scientist to life. Reading GALILEO'S DAUGHTER, we hear Galileo's voice, we sense his pain and share his excitement, and every once again we marvel at how the human mind, and heart, can lift so much."--The New York Times
Sobel's clearly written book takes a look behind the familiar presentation of Galileo as scholar, mathematician, and astronomer. Here we see him through his daughter's letters, a correspondence carried on despite ill health, money troubles, and the threat of the Catholic inquisitors. She encourages him, nags him, worries about his health, and asks (frequently) for favors. However, there is too little about the daughter herself, and the life she spent in a cloistered convent from an early age. This is a good book if you want a biography of Galileo, but it isn't exactly what the title promises.
tani reviewed Galileo's Daughter : A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love on
Helpful Score: 2
Until I read this book, I had no idea that Galileo had a beloved daughter who was a nun. In addition to narrative, the book contains a number of interesting pictures and diagrams, but at the center of it all is the letters. I have to agree with the blurb on the back cover, which says, "Deftly weaving historical detail with the warm, earnest, and solicitous writings of a loving daughter, Sobel does for 17th-century technology and religion what she did for the science of navigation in the 1995 bestseller, Longitude..."
This book is a great reminder of the importance between the separation of church and state. It demonstrates how the entwining of the two can set a country, as well as the entire earth's population back several hundred years.
The book is so well written, that even as a non-scientific thinker, I found myself engrossed in the diagrams and explanations of Galileo's theories. Then, my mind could take a break and read through the enjoyable letters from his daughter, asking for the return of a tablecloth, while providing news of friends and family. Her letters gave a peek into the lives and personal feelings of each family member and some of Galileo's close associates; just enough, in fact, to make me want to branch off into their story, but not enough to distract from the story at hand.
The timeline, bibliography, and notes at the back of the book were equally interesting reading.
Read this for my online book club, The Reading Cove. We all voted for it, but this was NOT a good book club book. Galileo's life is extremely fascinating, as he was a brilliant mind, but GALILEO'S DAUGHTER by Dava Sobel was not only *not* about his daughter, but it was written like a college text book, not a memoir.
The title appears to be a marketing ploy. Suor Maria Celeste's letters were unevenly interspersed with the recounting of her father's life experiences, scientific discoveries and writings.
I feel there was enough going on in Maria Celeste's life at the convent to tell a very engaging tale that was ACTUALLY about Galileo's Daughter and his relationship with her, but the author clearly wanted to write mainly about Galileo.
If you have a specific interest in all things Galileo, you'll find this book worthy of the time, if not, skip it. I'm pretty sure there are much better books on Galileo Galilei. This one puts you to sleep...and it's definitely not suited for book clubs! ;-)
I totally enjoyed reading this book both because it is historically informative and well researched, and yet conveys the warm personal and loving relationship between Galileo and his daughter. Although the events took place over 400 years ago, the personal concerns expressed by Sour Maria Celeste, his daughter, through her letters make the reader feel connected. She frequently asks for money to support her cloistered nuns, always expressing her needs in a humble yet artful way. And he can never resist her requests. Their personal warmth is counterpoint to the power and control the Church of Rome sought relentlessly to impose on Galileo and his inquisitive mind. Although the Pope could effect house arrest away from his home, Galileo and his daughter remain connected and support each other through their letters and small favors they did for each other. The book physically has two covers - Galileo on the outer and his daughter on the inner cover. This aptly indicates the two stories that are enmeshed throughout the book.
This is really a biograpy of Galileo; the 'daughter' part is something of an artifice to give it a more human touch. That said, I think it's a pretty good biography. Galileo has always been one of my heroes, and this book did not disappoint.
I tried ... I honestly tried to stick with this book and read it all.
I failed miserably. Only reached page 58!!
For those who are astronomy, history, politics, religious buffs this is a fascinating read.
I could not keep up with all the back-stabbing, lies, fawning and struggles this brilliant man had to endure.
I was hoping it was a story about his relationship with his daughter.
Alas it was not. Maybe if I had persevered she would have become involved in the story.
So I gave up and decided to move on to the next book on my bookshelf.
"In Galileo's Daughter, Dava Sobel (author of the bestselling Longitude) tells the story of the famous scientist and his illegitimate daughter, Sister Maria Celeste.
Sobel bases her book on 124 surviving letters to the scientist from the nun, whom Galileo described as "a woman of exquisite mind, singular goodness, and tenderly attached to me."
Their loving correspondence revealed much about their world..." amazon
This biography on Gallileo is based on the 124 letters he saved from his daughter. However, the author expands on them putting the letters and Gallileo's troubles in historical perspective. The book's comprehensive index includes events and people. We also learn about the life of a num in the 1600's.
I greatly enjoyed listening to this audiobook as I drove. The book was a mixture of the letters written to Galileo by his daughter, Suor (Sister) Maria Celeste, and biographical information on the two of them. The final chapter was particularly touching, and quite unexpected.
Helen S. (newfiemom) reviewed Galileo's Daughter : A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love on
Galileo was a man ahead of his time---I was glad that he ahd kept his letters form his daughter and upset that his letters were destroyed by his daughters convent. An amazing story! Made me glad to be alive today--our hardships are NOTHIGN when compared to the times fo the Great Inquisition--or to the lives of women centuries ago!
If you love history you will love this book---plus you look really intelligent carrying it around! LOL
I never liked studying history, but a well-written biography/memoir makes it enjoyable to learn about important historical people and events. The daughter's letters conveyed so much about the loving father-daughter relationship as well as about the character of the brilliant scientist/mathematician.