Monday, November 17, 2014

Charles and Emma: The Darwin's Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman

Emma Wedgewood knew the situation when she married Charles Darwin. She was a Christian who believed in God, Jesus, and the afterlife. He was a skeptic who preferred being called an agnostic to an atheist. Charles said that he had an open mind. Emma counted on it. In fact, she insisted on it. They married and maintained respect for each others views. He sometimes attended church with her, while she read and commented on all his scientific papers, even those that explained evolution of species though natural selection. How they remained happily married until Charles' death (43 years) is the story told by Deborah Heiligman in Charles and Emma: The Darwin's Leap of Faith.

I listened to Charles and Emma on an audio download read by Rosalyn Landor never guessing that the book is considered juvenile literature and shelved in the youth or teen sections in libraries. The content is for mature readers, as the author includes detailed scientific and theological content. I never found it simplified. I was instead charmed by the story that was both serious and sometimes sweet.

Throughout the story I admired the patience and care shown by two people with profound differences. I wish the rest of us could learn this lesson.

Heiligman, Deborah. Charles and Emma: The Darwin's Leap of Faith. Henry Holt, 2009. 268p. ISBN 9780805087215.

Audiobook: Random House/Listening Library, 2009. 6 compact discs. ISBN 9780739380499.

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