Beth Cato's Reviews > Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love

Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel
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Apr 10, 12

bookshelves: in, 2010, nonfiction, history
Read in October, 2010

Every year I like to read at least one nonfiction book that educates me about an era or people I'm otherwise ignorant of. Last year I read Nathaniel's Nutmeg, a book that has forever changed my perspective about paying $2 for a jar of nutmeg at the grocery store. This year I selected Galileo's Daughter. I admit, I didn't know much about the man other than that he was the father of modern sciences and was censored by the Catholic church, but I didn't know the details of that.[return][return]This book takes a fascinating approach to Galileo by studying him through his eldest daughter's eyes. He had three children--all illegitimate--with the two girls placed in a convent. The eldest, dubbed Suor Maria Celeste as a nun, had all of the intelligence and wit of her father. She managed many aspects of her convent, and while her father was imprisoned by the Inquisition, she also ran her father's household--even though she could not leave the convent grounds. This book delves heavily into Galileo's Dialogues, a volume that earned him the acclaim of his fellow scientists and the scorn of the Pope (his former friend), and resulted in his prolonged captivity during a time of virulent plague.[return][return]I'm very glad I read this, though at times it was challenging for me. I do not share Galileo's scientific mind, and I'm awed at the discoveries and observations he made with the tools at his disposal. I adored Maria Celeste's letters. Her voice is delightful and bright, always drawing heavily on her faith while supporting her father to the utmost. It's no wonder that Galileo was crushed by her death at age 34. Galileo's own long life of 77 is quite remarkable; up to the very end, despite blindness and incapacitating pain, he dictated new theories to his apprentice.[return][return]I highly recommend this book.
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