Select one of the keywords
Finding Emilie    by Laurel Corona order for
Finding Emilie
by Laurel Corona
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2011 (2011)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Emilie 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 Principia Mathematica was heralded at the time and remains today the only French translation.

Laurel 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 normal 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.

What is also interesting is that this story brings out the fact that men were themselves just as caught in the necessity to make appropriate 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.

This 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.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Historical books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews