Monday, January 02, 2012

Book Review - "Galileo's Daughter" by Dava Sobel

My first book to read on my new Amazon Kindle was about Galileo Galilei and his daughter Sr Marie Celeste. While the book is dominated by Galileo himself - his scientific discoveries, and troubles with the Church, a great part of the book features correspondence from Marie Celeste to her father (no letters survive from Galileo to his daughter).

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This is a very enjoyable book. For those very knowledgeable about Galileo himself there is probably very little more to learn about him. His discoveries and achievements in life are described, but from about the middle of the book on it comes alive with Marie Celeste's letters. Much of the letter's contents are about trivial matters - eg, cooking, fixing shirt collars, and about growing vegetables. She also prays a lot for her father and it is clear that she loved him a lot and followed his life closely from behind the confines of the walls of the enclosed order of Poor Clares nuns' convent. She also pleads for money and help a lot - the life of a nun in the first part of the 17th century was indeed a very tough one. Plague features a lot outside the convent walls. Dava Sobel weaves a web of life from the surviving letters - she has the skill of the historian and well as an eye for a good story. Marie Celeste is the true hero of this story and Sobel brings her to life. 

My experience of reading with the Kindle was good. I read a lot on the plane. The text is easy to read - very clear. However, the ebook does not have any graphics as the paper has - I don't see why this is the case as the Kindle can show graphics. I also found the format of the book was littered with errors - new lines starting in the middle of a sentence happened a lot. There are also asterisks displayed from time-to-time - possibly referring to a footnote (which is not visible) or to the extensive bibliography at the end of the book. The Kindle may be more suited in its current format to fiction rather than non-fiction. I'll judge this more when I get more books.

Overall - a recommended read. But due to the many errors on the Kindle version I think the paper copy might be a better option.

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