Exceptional tales of emancipation and evolution at the birth of the modern era. Set against the backdrop of the nineteenth century, this elegant collection of stories take their impulse from the world of science. Interweaving historical and fictional characters, they illuminate the secret passions of those driven by a devotion to, and an intimate acquaintance with, the natural world.
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In 1764, two Englishwomen set out to prove that swallows--contrary to the great Linnaeus's belief--do not hibernate underwater. But they must be patient and experiment in secret, such actions being inappropriate for the female of the species. In 1862, a hopeless naturalist heads off for yet another journey, though he can't seem to rid his conscience of the thousands of animals that have already died in his service. In 1971, a pregnant young woman, ill at ease with her socially superior husband and his stepchildren, hears of a Tierra del Fuegan taken hostage by the commander of the Beagle in 1835. This unwilling specimen was, we read, "captured, exiled, re-educated; then returned, abused by his family, finally re-accepted. Was he happy? Or was he saying that as a way to spite his captors? Darwin never knew."
Many of the characters who populate Andrea Barrett's National Book Award winning collection, Ship Fever, feel similarly displaced in the world. They long to prove themselves in both science and love, but are often thwarted by gender, social position, or the prevailing order. In "The Behaviour of the Hawkweeds", the wife of a genetics professor has learned that each narrative of discovery is matched by one, if not more, "in which science is not just unappreciated, but bent by loneliness and longing." Barrett's astonishing tales of ambition and isolation convey the meaning and feeling behind the patterns--scientific and emotional--but slip free of easy closure. The two women in "Rare Bird", like the swallows, depart England for more conducive climes, or so the brother of one believes. The reader is left to hope, and imagine. Much has been made of Andrea Barrett's interlacing of history, knowledge, and fact--and rightly so. But equal attention should be paid to the brilliant serenity and exactitude of her style. --Kerry FriedReview:
‘A truly stylish book’
‘Elegant and exhilarating, subtle and haunting. Barrett has an alchemist’s talent for transforming scientific fact into lively fiction.’
‘A stunning follow-up to The Voyage of the Narwhal, Ship Fever interweaves the scientific advances of hte nineteenth century with tales of love and passion. Barrett pays particular attention to the women of the time, constrained by convention, ridiculed for hteir attempts to enter the masculine world of medicine and politics, who nevertheless battled to improve the lot of the poor and needy. Wise, beautifully written and full of historical insights.’
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Book Description Flamingo, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 260 pages. This item is printed on demand. Bookseller Inventory # zk0007292813
Book Description HARPER COLLINS, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: NEW. 9780007292813 This listing is a new book, a title currently in-print which we order directly and immediately from the publisher. Bookseller Inventory # HTANDREE0980153