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The Little Animals

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  32 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek, a quiet linen draper in Delft, has discovered a new world: the world of the little animals, or animalcules, that he sees through his simple microscopes.

These tiny creatures are everywhere, even inside us. But who will believe him? Not his wife, not his neighbors, not his fellow merchants-- only his friend Reinier De Graaf, a medical doctor. Then he
Paperback, 373 pages
Published May 15th 2019 by Aqueduct Press (first published May 11th 2019)
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Average rating 4.47  · 
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Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
All the stars for this beautiful enchanting work.
Dec 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book makes me want to join a book club just so that I can recommend this book as our club's next read. There will be a few naysayers in this hypothetical club that weren't as charmed as I was by Tolmie's latest novel, but they will at least agree the historical setting made the book interesting to discuss. More importantly, the majority will do as I did and start recommending it to other friends who will recommend it to other friends and finally set this book on the path to getting the reco ...more
Pam Porter
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Based on the life of Anton van Leeuwenhoek in the late 17th century and his work grinding lenses for early microscopes that he built. He was the first to see protozoa, bacteria, red blood cells, and spermatozoa. The author creates a "goose girl" and a close relationship with the painter Johannes Vermeer that there is no proof of. Sarah Tolmie spins a wonderful tale, weaving facts and fiction. It is SO good! I read an advance copy but the book is being released April 30, 2019. Nice fictional piec ...more
Denise O’Connor
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, it worked on so many levels. First, the setting of 17th century Delft was fascinating in that Tolmie paints a vivid picture of family, class, the economy, gender relations, religion, as well as relations between Protestants and Catholics, the English and the Dutch. The story of Antoni Leeuwenhoek, the “father” of microscopes who revealed a whole new world of microbes or “animalcules” was new to me and so interesting. The character of the goose girl and her geese was novel and ...more
Historical novel about Antoni van Leeuwenhoek discovering microorganisms, and his attempts to get the scientific establishment to accept this discovery (and him as a scientist), and also his daily life as a draper and husband and father, and his attempts to create linen with patterns inspired by the microorganisms and sell it in the city. He also hires an autistic goose girl who hears voices that may be madness or may be microorganisms.

The prose is luminous: Van Leeuwenhoek was friends with Verm
Historical novel about Anton van Leewenhoek and his microscopes with a few non-factual embellishments.

Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing story about understanding and acceptance, perception and reality. This book was about so many things, and had such a cast of lovable characters. It was a bonus that this was loosely based on the discovery of microbiology. I hope the author writes another story about the goose girl. This book took me by surprise, I really enjoyed it.
Andy H.
Oct 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I don't know if there's any way somebody could have told me about the content of this book, before I read it, which would have communicated how much I would enjoy it; the best they could have done might have been just to say, "It's by Sarah Tolmie." She writes about the rituals and chores of cultures strange to her readership and about her characters' encounters with magic and deep weirdness in the same way, with a deeply felt calm specificity. It transfixes me. ...more
Warren Dunham
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
the story of the man who was the first to describe microscopic animals that surrond us. It is greatly dramatized most notably with the addition of goose girl a girl with no name who cares for geese and apparently can under stand animals including the microscopic.

her addition is what makes the story she says whatever is on top of her head and often has incite that helps.

Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. As a historical novel, it took liberties with the history but also built up a believable historical milieu that left me wanting to learn more about the actual history and the work of Leeuwenhoek. The characters, too, are believable, compelling and very much a part of the world the author has built.
Michael Hanscom
Unlike most or all of the other nominees, this was more historical fiction with a thread of magical realism—not a bad thing, though, as it’s a neat blend of themes of science, curiosity, magic, art, sexuality, and commerce that I very much enjoyed.
Matt Hunt
This was a pretty stunning book.
Vermeer, the discovery of microbes, cloth making, the 16th century sex trade and catholics vs Protestants all threaded through with Grimms goose girl.
Wonderful, I’d read it again and recommend to everyone.
Shelley George
Mar 07, 2020 rated it did not like it
Didn't read more than 20 pages.
Didn't like the tone of the "little animals " references to bacteria.
Did like the guy.
Didn't care for the goose girl.
I just didn't care.
Mar 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
A fairytale-inspired goose girl character was a bold creative embellishment for this historical novel about Van Leeuwenhoek, a creator of early microscopes who saw the first microscopic images ("little animals.") Though creative in concept, it left me craving a well-crafted factual book of information on the topic, which could transport and inspire us just as well. ...more
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Lesley Wheeler
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Sep 24, 2020
rated it it was ok
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Norwescon: The Little Animals by Sarah Tolmie 3 6 Mar 07, 2020 10:30AM  

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Sarah Tolmie is the author of the 120-sonnet sequence Trio, published by McGill-Queen’s University Press (release date 1 April 2015) and the chapbook Sonnet in a Blue Dress and Other Poems (Baseline Press, 2014). She has also published a novel, The Stone Boatmen, and a short fiction collection, NoFood, with Aqueduct Press (both 2014).

She is a medievalist trained at the University of Toronto and Ca

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