Customer Reviews for

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith

Average Rating 4
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  • Posted November 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting, but not what I expected

    Charles and Emma is an educational young adult biography of Charles Darwin's relationship with his wife, Emma, and how they compromised over their different views of God. It was well-written and interesting. However, I had a few objections. First, the description of the book sounds like it is unbiased about Darwin's questionable belief in God. Heiligman clearly leans in the Darwin-was-an-athiest direction. However, that is a forgivable short-coming, given the highly charged topic.

    My second complaint is that Heiligman mentioned multiple times how delighted Darwin was to "go to bed" in the evenings with his wife. Does this really need to be pointed out to young teens?

    My third complaint is her rendition of the 1860 Huxley-Wilberforce debates: the famous conversation that took place in these debates is interesting to note, but she made it sound like it definitely happened. Given that no written record of the debates exist, there is some doubt what was actually said. There is even a possibility that the conversation is simply a well-known rumor. Heiligman (who clearly did a lot of research for this book) would have known about these uncertainties, but she chose to portray the conversation as if it were a word-for-word quote. I think it's always best to point out to teenagers when interesting stories are possibly just rumors and when they are definitely true. It educates teens about the lasting power of rumor, and also saves them possible embarrassment in the future.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2010

    A different kind of love story.

    A very appealing account of Charles Darwin's life story. It shows Darwin's scientific approach to so many aspects of his life including marriage and family. This biography reads like a novel rather than the usual dry biographies written about scientists. The insert of photographs are lovely and the family tree is very helpful. All in all, a delightful read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2013

    Charles and Emma was a surprisingly delightful. I was impressed

    Charles and Emma was a surprisingly delightful. I was impressed with how intrigued I was chapter by chapter despite it being a slower read. Deborah Heiligman has masterfully compiled her research of Charles and Emma’s life so perfectly that I felt like a spectator at the Down House watching the couple and their family for their 46 years of marriage.


     Heiligman also captures perfectly their curious ability to co-exist despite their drastic religious difference—Charles’s non-acclaimed agnostic belief and Emma’s staunch Catholic faith. I accredit Emma and Charles compassionate, and nonjudgmental and open mindedness to their ability to love persistently and never let a void venture to separate them even by the tiniest degree. Their endearing love, however, did not excluded feeling the occasional high-strung tension of their heart’s connection; Emma with her worry of Charles’s soul, will he be with her in heaven? And Charles with his focused study of science accrediting him to not accept the church’s current belief of God’s way and character. Charles and Emma's passionate and undying loyalty to each other exemplifies that heart-devoted relationships can still exist despite varying differences. If you like non-fiction, romance success stories then this would be a good read for you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2010

    Prettyy good.

    It's an interesting and fun book(:

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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