Simon & Schuster, 2011 (2011)
Reviewed by Barbara Lingens
milie de Breteuil, Marquise du Châtelet, was a scientist at a time when science was just new and women were not thought capable of much beyond marrying and giving birth. Emilie's translation of, and commentary on, Newton's
was heralded at the time and remains today the only French translation.
aurel Corona has found a way to bring not only Emilie to life but also to imagine a life for her daughter Lili, who is thought to have died in childhood. Well researched, the story gives us the
life for a woman of nobility. It contrasts that with the willful antics of Emilie's private life and her serious pursuit of science, set against Lili's painstaking researches to figure out who her mother is so she can find herself.
hat is also interesting is that this story brings out the fact that men were themselves just as caught in the necessity to make
marriages. However, they could avail themselves of mistresses. Those who wished to pursue scientific knowledge had to be more than careful not to arouse the suspicions of the clergy. Female scientists were doubly penalized and had to hide behind male protectors.
his novel brings out, in a very interesting fashion, the tensions between the frivolity of the court in the last decades before the French Revolution and the serious pursuit of scientific knowledge.
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