Customer Reviews for

Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

HISTORY BUFFS, REJOICE!

This is an absolutely fascinating look at Galileo and his relationship to his daughter and science through letters penned between the two. It is a shame that many of his daughter's letters were burned (go figure, it was the Inquisition period) but the few that remain ar...
This is an absolutely fascinating look at Galileo and his relationship to his daughter and science through letters penned between the two. It is a shame that many of his daughter's letters were burned (go figure, it was the Inquisition period) but the few that remain are an amazing insight into the man, his science, his religious beliefs and the love he had for his daughter. I highly recommend it.

posted by OSAKAROSE on October 14, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Would have rather read about the moody daughter

Three stars only because the story of Galileo is enriching. The daughter's letters are stilted and unrevealing, and it's hard to get a grasp on her true feelings. These letters, full of: 'The fruit was wonderful' and 'Thou art so esteemed to one and all,' gets repetit...
Three stars only because the story of Galileo is enriching. The daughter's letters are stilted and unrevealing, and it's hard to get a grasp on her true feelings. These letters, full of: 'The fruit was wonderful' and 'Thou art so esteemed to one and all,' gets repetitious early on. There's a moody, resentful daughter, also cloistered away with this one of the title, who would have been a far more interesting character than this one. But not too much is said (or possibly known) about that one, Livia.

posted by Anonymous on February 4, 2002

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2002

    Would have rather read about the moody daughter

    Three stars only because the story of Galileo is enriching. The daughter's letters are stilted and unrevealing, and it's hard to get a grasp on her true feelings. These letters, full of: 'The fruit was wonderful' and 'Thou art so esteemed to one and all,' gets repetitious early on. There's a moody, resentful daughter, also cloistered away with this one of the title, who would have been a far more interesting character than this one. But not too much is said (or possibly known) about that one, Livia.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 14, 2011

    HISTORY BUFFS, REJOICE!

    This is an absolutely fascinating look at Galileo and his relationship to his daughter and science through letters penned between the two. It is a shame that many of his daughter's letters were burned (go figure, it was the Inquisition period) but the few that remain are an amazing insight into the man, his science, his religious beliefs and the love he had for his daughter. I highly recommend it.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 10, 2011

    Great Book!

    I checked this book out from my school library for a science project. At first I was suprised with the size of it, but whenever I opened the book I read at least 15 to 20 pages each time, and before I knew it I finished it.
    It was basically more about Galileo than his daughter. Throughout the books there were letters that Suor Maria Celeste (Galileo's daughter)wrote to her father about how things were going in her life at the convent being a nun. He also had another daughter and a son. Both of the girls were nuns. Maria would sometimes send her father some cake along with her letters which she would send with a messenger who would then travel a couple hundred of miles. She would also include prayers in her letters because her father fell unbelievingly ill one year.
    Maria and her father had a very close father-daughter relationship. Maria would ask her father for money sometimes as alms to support the convent. Her father would sometimes send her fabric for her to sew him curtains or to even fix up an old shirt.

    Overall it was really a great book. I would recommend it for school projects or even just reading in free time or book clubs.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The Human Side of a Genius

    Dava Sobel's Longitude was a brilliant recounting of the solution to one of mankind's most perplexing problems. Galileo's Daughter is a longer book, and a different one in style and construction. Sobel has written a dual biography of the great astronomer and his daughter, Sister Maria Celeste. It is difficult to escape the irony of Galileo's prosecution by the Church that included his daughter as a nun but neither of them seemed to be aware of it. Although only her letters to him have survived, Sobel uses them to humanize both father and daughter. There is plenty of science in this book, but the relationship between them despite all the obstacles lifts it to the level of the great biographies.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 25, 2011

    Great read! If you love history, you'll love this look at the entirety of Galileo, his scientific ideas, trial, and the family life minutiae that made him utterly human.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2010

    Not as exciting as I had hoped.

    A very slow start since most of her letters do not come into play until page 100. This is written more as an educational book than the weaving a story that incorporates the facts with emotions etc... I was not as happy with this book as I had hoped.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2000

    A Best Read for 1999

    I've enjoyed this book and a couple others immensely as I look back on my readings for 1999, ending with my holiday gift books and the time to enjoy them over the New Year. Sobel's book is delightful book and, as with Longitude, such a great job is done in interweaving a historical story line with great characters, vivid word-pictorials and a successful charting of what's important about the story today. Its take a special gift to bring these things from the past to life and inform the reader at the same time. There are two or three books this year that did it well. This is one of them.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 29, 2012

    Galileo's daughter? Not really.

    Not what I expected with the title it has. Mostly a scientific explanation of Galileo's theories. Read over 100 pages then stopped. Not my cup of tea.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2012

    Good, but the title is misleading.

    This book, while well-written, is, for the most part, not about Galileo's daughter. In fact, it barely mentions her at all. I expected a book about a loving, long-distance relationship between father and daughter, but I got a book stating Galileo's accomplishments.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    A Must Read

    One of the best nonfiction historical dramas around.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2011

    Science, who thought it could be so exciting!

    Gazing at the night sky will never be the same. This engaging picture of Galileo, taken from letters written to him from his daughter, reveal not only the man but the whole of the world at a crossroads of faith and history vs. intellect and science.

    Galileo was a man of both pathways but unlike most of the world he could see the crossroads as a map toward the future, not a roadblock.
    His faith sustained him when his science made him a target of the faithful. His intellectual powers helped him see beyond the obvious into a sky full of wonders and undiscovered worlds.

    A scholar, a father, a scientist, a politician, an enemy of the church, Galileo comes to life as if seen reflected in a mirror of his own making. His inventions become understandable, his honesty is breathtaking and his influence on our daily lives is seen as if through one of his famous telescopes.

    Science is always better if it is seen against the background of daily life, it takes on its true colors and becomes a protagonist that engages our minds and forces us to realize the old truth that progress always comes at a cost. This book, like Galileo's telescopes, helps us see the connections between intellect, mechanics, and man's perception of and engagement with the universe.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2009

    Beautiful and touching, Dava Sobel's book was perfect summer reading

    Dava Sobel's "Galileo's Daughter" was beautifully written, very well researched, and had sweet surprises from beginning to end. I now have a greater appreciation, not only for the genius of Galileo, but also for the bittersweet times in which he lived. Many thanks
    to dava Sobel, what's next?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Book review

    This book Galileo's Daughter is a great book written by Dava Sobel. It's about Galileo Galilei and his daughter, Virginia Galilei. Galileo Galilei, known for his inventions, such as the telescope and the compass. He is also known for his discoveries, such as that the earth revolves around the sun, instead of the sun and other planets revolving around the earth. In this book, Galileo writes back and forth with his daughter Virginia, who lives in a Nun convent called San Matteo. Galileo sent her and her sister Livia there when they both came of age so that they wouldn't turn out like their mother. Throughout the book as Galileo discovers things he gets more popular, but the church does not like some things that he discovers. They do not agree with the idea of the earth revolving around the sun and they charge Galileo with heresy. They say that he is objecting to the church's teachings and must be punished. In the end they convict him and he is sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life. Galileo Galilei dies at the age of 77, on January 8, 1642 from kidney failure caused by old age.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2002

    Not to my liking

    I must admit I found this book to be a little dry. I understand that some background information on Galileo had to be provided but I felt like I was studying for my master's thesis when I was trudging through this tome. So many details!! So many events!! So many small victories for our man Galileo Galilei!! I just wanted to get right to the letters, to get to 'know' the daughter writing them, so I skipped most of the establishing elements and went right to the part where the correspondence was introduced. I tried to be interested in her writing. But besides the obvious (and sometimes sickening) filial devotion which opened and closed her letters, I found them to be of little more substance than a laundry list. I could read only so much about starching and sewing lace cuffs and washing shirts. As if reading this book wasn't enough of a chore, I had to read about HER chores! No thanks. I am the type of person that must have something (anything) to read while I'm eating. And Galileo's Daughter was my dinnertime companion for several nights, until I decided that having naught to read was better than having to go any further in this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2001

    Outstanding Details

    Excellent insights into the person of Galileo and his brilliant and caring daughter. Interesting historical insights.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2001

    A great glimpse into 17th Century existance!

    A touching historical novel largely about the works of Galileo, but formed from the surviving letters from his daughter. I really was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. It was a great glimpse into life early in the 17th century.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2001

    Familial love throughout ...

    The title, Galileo¿s Daughter, is a bit of a misnomer. At least, that is the perception throughout the early pages of Dava Sobel¿s historical narrative. Other than a letter sprinkled here and there from daughter to father, the book appears to be about Galileo. Further reading, however, enlightens the reader to the fact that Galileo and his daughter, Virginia, are inextricably bonded¿a book about either will be a book about the other. Little is known about Virginia, Galileo¿s illegitimate daughter. She along with a brother and a sister are the offspring of Galileo and his long-time Venetian mistress, Marina Gamba. Galileo never marries, and he and Marina eventually part ways; however, he maintains a familial relationship with his children throughout his life. Because of their illegitimacy, the daughters of Galileo are not suitable for a marriage arrangement. The next honorable choice becomes the convent. Galileo, therefore, places thirteen-year-old Virginia and her twelve-year-old sister, Livia, in the Convent of San Matteo in Arcetri. We know little about Livia. Virginia¿s letters shed a bit of light on this second child of Galileo; however, there does not seem to be very much interaction between the great scientist and his younger daughter. As a nun, Virginia adopts the name Maria Celeste, a name to honor her father¿s fascination with the stars. Before writing this book, Sobel translated over one hundred and twenty letters written by Suor Maria Celeste to her father. Sadly, the letters written by Galileo in response no longer exist. Sobel uses these letters of Suor Maria Celeste, combines them with history, and reveals the story about a great man and his beloved daughter. Science and mathematics permeate the book; however, Sobel writes Galileo¿s Daughter in a style that even liberal arts types will enjoy reading. At the end of the book, she tells us how Galileo is posthumously venerated; and, she shares a beautiful truth about the final resting-place of Suor Maria Celeste that brought tears to my eyes. I believe it will to yours too.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2001

    Galileo is brought to life by a tale of science and devotion

    This story of the personal and scientific life of Galileo centers around both his work and his letters from his daughter. We get to see a side of Galileo that is ignored in other books. He makes discoveries in astronomy and physics that are the equal of any scientist to come. His concern for his family is always present throughtout.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2001

    Better than a dose of Sominex

    This book was disappointing and I found myself unable to stick with it. Even my scientist husband says the information and research is worthy, but very dull in its presentation. The title is misleading, and I felt the correspondence did not give an insight into the character of Galileo's daughter.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2000

    Plenty Galileo, Little Daughter

    I found much of interest in this book regarding Galileo. However, the title led me to believe that I would learn more about the daughter, not Galileo. Because I kept waiting for the book to swing into the topic of Galileo's daughter, I was over halfway through it before I realized it wasn't going to happen! As a history buff I did enjoy reading about what has to be one of the most brilliant minds ever to walk the earth. The information is presented in a reasonably interesting manner and the auther clearly presents their close, loving relationship. I just wish I had known what I was really going to be reading about! The daughter remains a bit of a mystery here, and I can't help but wish I had learned more about her as well.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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