Parents' Guide to

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith

By Debra Bogart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Award-winning bio of Darwin as a family man is a bit dry.

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Exhaustive background details about life in the Victorian age bring this biography more vividly to life, but this will still be a rather dry story for most readers. The focus is really on how Darwin reconciles his novel ideas of creation with those of the mostly religious society around him, including his devout wife, and what his family life was like at home.

Details such as learning that Gregor Mendel’s work was going on at the same time (Darwin and Mendel were unaware of each other’s theories), and stories of Charles studying his own offspring add some interest. More of a focus on Darwin's travels might have made the story more lively. The anticipated controversy that Darwin dreaded when he finally published his work was not so great, and comes across as anticlimatic. The wealth the Darwins inherited takes the story out of the realm of everyman, and lessens the urgency of the work. Older readers who love biographies may enjoy this one.

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