it seems like my reading goes in cycles. right now i am firmly in the grasp of 19th century intellectual history. reading lots about Lincoln and the Civil war. and a fair amount about Darwin. Angels and Ages by Adam Gopnik even combines the two!
i just finished Charles and Emma: the Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman. it’s history written for the young adult audience. (and that’s maybe the biggest problem with the book–she chooses to explain some things and not others. presumably because her readers wouldn’t understand. but i’m not too sure of her choices.) but i just love the premise of the book, that Emma and Charles took a leap of faith when they married. they knew that Charles didn’t share Emma’s faith. but they were also partners in a deep and lasting conversation that lasted their entire long marriage. Emma was Charles’s first and best reader. she was also devoted to his scientific work, waking early to help document the work of earthworms at Down House.
that idea–that a woman and a man might be interested in the world and each other, might have good work to do in common, might love each each other–just makes me so excited. it’s a pattern i’d like to follow.