Synopses & Reviews
In this riveting new novel, bestselling author John Darnton transports us to Victorian England and around the world to reveal the secrets of a legendary nineteenth-century figure. Darnton elegantly blends the power of fact and the insights of fiction to explore the many mysteries attached to the life and work of Charles Darwin.
What led Darwin to the theory of evolution? Why did he wait twenty-two years to write On the Origin of Species? Why was he incapacitated by mysterious illnesses and frightened of travel? Who was his secret rival? These are some of the questions driving Darnton's richly dramatic narrative, which unfolds through three vivid points of view: Darwin's own as he sails around the world aboard the Beagle; his daughter Lizzie's as she strives to understand the guilt and fear that struck her father at the height of his fame; and that of present-day anthropologist Hugh Kellem and Darwin scholar Beth Dulcimer, whose obsession with Darwin (and with each other) drives them beyond the accepted boundaries of scholarly research. What Hugh and Beth discover - Lizzie's diaries and letters lead them to a hidden chapter of Darwin's autobiography - is a maze of bitter rivalries, petty deceptions, and jealously guarded secrets, at the heart of which lies the birth of the theory of evolution.
A complex and intelligent novel that, like Darnton's first bestseller Neanderthal, brilliantly blends fact and fiction. This time the reader is transported to 19th Century England and around the world to solve a legendary mystery - what really led Darwin to his theory of evolution.
The late 19th century was known for its scientific advances, daring voyages to map every inch of the globe, and fastidious Victorian manners. Charles Darwin, more than any other Englishman, epitomized the era's movement toward a rational world order. Yet beneath his proper fagade, Darwin's life was filled with mysterious ailments and dark secrets that no one - except his third daughter, Lizzie - ever suspected. Unmarried, Lizzie remained at home with her parents most of her life and as devoted as she was to her father, her appraisal of his inscrutable ways filled the pages of her diaries.
Unfolding from three points of view; Darwin's journals from his voyage on the Beagle, Lizzie's letters and diaries, and that of Hugh Kellum - the modern-day anthropologist who, with the help of Darwin scholar Beth Dulcimer, delves into history in search the clue that will finally reveal the complex puzzle of Darwin's secret.