Customer Reviews for

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

Average Rating 4
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(24)

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(9)

2 Star

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(3)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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 h...
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.

posted by Rana-19 on March 10, 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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  • 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 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 3 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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  • 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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  • 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 January 6, 2000

    Engrossing Galileo Primer

    This is an engrossing, highly readable biography of Galileo and, to a lesser degree (due to a lack of existing information), his daughter, Soeur Marie Celeste. The book translates a number of letters that Soeur Marie Celeste wrote to her father; none from Galileo to her have been found (although they are alluded to by Soeur Marie Celeste). The author is thorough in her documentation of Galileo's scientific endeavors and legal struggles, and allows the reader to draw his own conclusions about the personal merits/neuroses of both people. It's hard not to be struck by the sexism of the time, whereby Galileo goes out of his way to make sure his lazy, disappointing, recalcitrant illegitmate son is both legitimized and employed by the Church, whereas his favored, hardworking and excrutiatingly devoted daughter is sent to a cloistured order where she lives like a literal prisoner... starving, sleep deprived and overworked. It is also obvious that although a genius, a wonderful professional mentor and a generous man, Galileo is no hero -- willing to renounce the scientific truths he knows in order to stay out of hot water. He was also a social climber. The only regret a reader might have is the lack of knowledge one is left with regarding how Soeur Marie Celeste actually felt about her lot in life -- and how her father justified it. But it's to the author's credit that she never tries to fill in what historical proof doesn't offer. Also very helpful for readers -- like me -- who aren't science whizzes and would like Galileo's experiments and discoveries explained in a simple manner.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 5, 2012

    A great man vs. Neanderthal churchmen

    I'd read Sobel's Longitude and, as an astronomy fan, decided to give GD a try. It was well worth the effort and having the advantage of reading the actual letters that Galileo's daughter, Sister Maria Celeste, had written to him made the reading experience even more touching. Before reading this book I was not aware of Galileo's other contributions to science. It's too bad that the Catholic church had not encouraged him and his investigations. But then, what do you expect from a male-dominated hierarchy whose main concern, now as then, was maintaining that hierarchy? Poor Sister Maria Celeste, being trapped as a nun in a time when women's contributions were denegrated. Her loving letters to her father were so poignant. I was not aware of her final resting place, despite having toured Santa Croce. In addition, Sobel included illustrations, helpful notes, and an extensive bibliography for further reading.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Galileo's Daughter is great for book clubs and conversation.

    The book is actually a memoir through letters saved from Galileo's eldest daughter. Sadly, the convent destroyed the letters from Galileo, so accounts are one-sided. The goes into detail about Galileo's passion for the science (as well as his daughter) and the interogation from the Holy Office for his book The Dialogue. Very interesting read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2002

    Much More Than a Biography

    I consider myself fortunate to have received the book Galileo¿s Daughter as a gift, because I don¿t think that I would have purchased in on my own. Based on the title and cover one may assume that the book is just a biography, which it is. But it is so much more. It documents the setting in which modern science was born. Today, for the most part people are comfortable with science and the many ways it makes our lives safer and more comfortable. However, during Galileo¿s lifetime it took great courage to seek the truth through scientific means. The book documents what it meant to live in a society that was controlled completely by the Church. To be an independent thinker meant putting your entire world at risk. This book makes one realize that only in the last few hundred years have people been able to study how nature works. This book illustrates that science can arrive at different conclusions than religion or philosophy about the world around us. The book inspired me to explore how mankind has arrived at our current way of thinking about uncertainty, opportunity and our place in nature. In other words about the meaning of life and what is our purpose. It is amazing how much we accept as true about nature and the meaning of life just because someone else said that the way it is. This book inspired me to write by book ¿The Meaning of Life: If life is a Journey You Need Good Directions¿

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2001

    An Excellent Biography

    Galileo¿s Daughter puts the reader in the middle of a revolution. Of course, the revolution here is philosophical rather than physical, but no less dangerous. In this uprising, the lone revolutionary can lose his souls as well as his life, and Dava Sobel¿s sense of story conveys this danger to her readers. As with most revolutionaries, Galileo¿s attention is diverted by other concerns. So, while he fends off the Jesuits and placates a fickle Pope, he must also tend to the needs of his daughter, Maria Celeste, who¿s monastic life is filled with its own challenges. The result is a very human portrait of this brilliant scientist and the world in which he lives ¿ an alian world removed from ours by almost four centuries; a world in which a beloved daughter¿s teeth fall out one at a time and her father can do nothing about it. Yet this world may not be as different from ours as we first think. The political intrigues, the double dealings, the two-facedness of the characters make the story as current as tonight¿s television channel guide. That is Sobel¿s strength and the main strength of Galileo¿s Daughter. It reads like fiction and engages the reader in the lives of two characters for whom the reader comes to care.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2001

    Best Book I Have Ever Read

    I have always being fascinated by the story of Galileo, but this book has shed new light. Sobel does a wonderful job of immersing the reader in 17th Century Italy, while showing the human side of this great scientist, through his daughter's letters, and his heart-filling paternal love, that many of us would have wished to have. Great book of a scientist, history and religion. Highly recommend to anyone interested in theology, astronomy,or science.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2000

    Its Interesting

    Its interesting that I just came here and saw T. Lynch's review. I too read both these books and thought they were great. Sobel has made me want to revisit Galileo's Europe-- this time with his fascinating story in mind. What a great idea to take these letters and use them to weave a new spin on what might have been thought to be an old story. This has been a great year for popular science writing, woven into history as this account, and woven into celebrities of history and their fascinating biographies. Sobel is so successful in recreating the human element in his stories. I feel I could go back to Europe now and have more of a feel for the world that used to be there but is still reflected. I used to not get much interest out of the churchs and monasteries of European tours; this time I might feel differently. Thanks for bringing it to life.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted April 4, 2012

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    Posted June 3, 2009

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    Posted April 9, 2012

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    Posted January 10, 2009

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    Posted October 18, 2012

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    Posted April 26, 2011

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