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Galileo's Daughter Audiobook

Galileo's Daughter

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Publisher's Summary

Galileo Galilei was the foremost scientist of his day. Though he never left Italy, his inventions and discoveries were heralded around the world. His telescopes allowed him to reveal the heavens and enforce the astounding argument that the earth moves around the sun. For this belief, he was brought before the Holy Office of the Inquisition, accused of heresy, and forced to spend his last years under house arrest.

Galileo's oldest child was 13 when he placed her in a convent near him in Florence, where she took the most appropriate name of Suor Maria Celeste. Her support was her father's greatest source of strength. Her presence, through letters which Sobel has translated from Italian and masterfully woven into the narrative, graces her father's life now as it did then.

GALILEO'S DAUGHTER dramatically recolors the personality and accomplishment of a mythic figure whose seventeenth-century clash with Catholic doctrine continues to define the schism between science and religion. Moving between Galileo's public life and Maria Celeste's sequestered world, Sobel illuminates the Florence of the Medicis and the papal court in Rome during an era when humanity's perception of its place in the cosmos was overturned. With all the human drama and scientific adventure that distinguished Latitude, Galileo's Daughter is an unforgettable story.

©2000 Dava Sobel; (P)2009 Random House

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  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 09-30-13
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 09-30-13 Member Since 2017

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

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    "Eppur, si muove"

    This is a well researched historical novel about the relationship between Galileo and his eldest daughter Virginia Galilei (1600-1634). Apparently Galileo did not marry Marina Gamba of Venice even though they had 3 children together. The son Vincenzo was legitimized and studied law at the University of Pisa. The two girls were deemed to be un marriageable so were sent off to become nuns when they were 11 years old. Virginia became Suor Maria Celeste and her sister Livia became Suor Archangela. They were placed in the San Matteo Convent Arcetri of the Poor Clares order. Sobel based the story on the letters written by Suor Maria Celeste and according to Sobel the letters from Suor Maria were saved by Galileo but his letters to her were destroyed on her death by the Mother Superior to protect the honor of the Order because of the conviction of Galileo by the Church. Sobel also researched the Vatican records, but she presented the delicate religious issues by stating only the facts. She did not go into much detail about the works of Galileo as there are well known and the book was about his relationship with the daughter. Suor Maria Celeste died in 1634 of dysentery. Sobel portrayed her as an intelligent women well able to discuss Galileo's work with him with great understanding. She apparently proofed some of his manuscripts. I was surprised to learn that she is buried with him in his tomb. The book has relevance today as science is still under attack by political and religious fundamentalist even thought this is not the year 1600. George Guidall did his usual magnificent job narrating the book. If you are interested in science or history this is a book for you.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rena Alisa Los Gatos, CA, US 01-10-15
    Rena Alisa Los Gatos, CA, US 01-10-15 Member Since 2016
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    "Geniuses have families too."

    The story of Galileo, the famous astronomer, is well known. Galileo had a companion whom he did not marry because she was "beneath" him in social status. They had three children together. The son was legitimized, but the daughters (ages 10 and 12) were sent to a convent and cloistered there for the rest of their lives. Galileo remained in close contact with his daughters and corresponded with his eldest Soeur Maria Cileste.

    Dava Sobel has reconstructed the life and character of Maria from the correspondence with her illustrious father. This is a double story. We are told a great deal about Galileo's discoveries, thoughts and writings. What is unique is that we also learn about the everyday life of these two remarkable people. Maria was a brilliant woman who was totally devoted to her father and her vocation.

    An absolute "must read". I have listened several times and enjoy it more with each retelling.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dranma 12-31-15
    Dranma 12-31-15
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    "Galileo's Daughter"

    I was surprised that this book is more about Galileo's life, his studies, inventions, etc. We do learn about his daughters, 2, and one in particular and their relationship but that is not the focus of the book. I enjoyed this book twice because there is so much history about religion, Italy, and other famous peopled that influenced him.
    I recommend this book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. H. H. 02-25-16
    D. H. H. 02-25-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Such a great narration of history"

    Strange to learn for the first time about Galileo's two daughters, whom he sent to a monastery when they were still innocent young girls, because he never married their mother. One daughter so devoted to god, work and her father, the other remaining obscure due to complete lack of correspondence with her father. Interesting to learn that the devoted, older daughter is buried together with her father at the Basilica of Santa Croce, but that this is nowhere mentioned on the tomb. Well written book. Great narrator. Loved hearing the story of
    Galileo's life again.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hibiscus Flower 10-20-13
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    "Compelling"

    "Galileo's Daughter" is one of the most compelling works of history I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Dava Sobel is equal parts poetic and science in her writing and she has a unique gift for intertwining the human stories with their scientific purpose, without missing a beat on the politics. This is really a profound work. I've read it, I've listened to it, and I'm sure I'll listen to it again and again.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doris 02-17-10
    Doris 02-17-10 Member Since 2015
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    "A Bit Dry"

    If I had the option, I would give this 3 1/2 stars. I was hoping for something a bit more revealing, in terms of the tension of the times, historical background to the situation, personalities involved and so on. It is very well researched, but I can't help feeling that there is more of a story here, and Sobel wrote in black and white when she could have painted in living color.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marianne S Ulysses, Kansas United States 07-18-13
    Marianne S Ulysses, Kansas United States 07-18-13 Member Since 2017
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    "Biography of Genius Denied"
    What did you love best about Galileo's Daughter?

    It was very interesting to learn more about Galileo, his times and also what life was like for a nun in the Middle Ages.


    Which character – as performed by George Guidall – was your favorite?

    I liked GALILEO'S daughter who tried very hard to make the best of the circumstances of her life. I admired GALILEO'S mind and the way he was able to reach conclusions about the universe that no one else had made. The book did not explain why he didn't legitimize all of his children or marry their mother, which would have made it unnecessary to force the girls into a convent. This was a flaw in the book, I felt. I still thought it was a very good biography overall.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    All through the book, I wished that GALILEO'S genius and revolutionary ideas could have been accepted at the time. I was also aware of many parallels to our own time with people refusing to accept science on religious grounds. I liked the ending, but I won't reveal it.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 08-02-17
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 08-02-17 Member Since 2013

    Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.

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    "Faith and Genius of One Man vs a Kangaroo Court"

    This amazing story of the life of Galileo, his discoveries and most of all his relationship with his oldest daughter, Virginia (later named Maria Celeste, when she entered the convent) is one of wonder and deep religious faith . . . I learned much about sixteenth century Italy and Rome and the stranglehold that the Catholic Church had on all of society . . . and yet the deep faith in God that Christians held fast to in spite of the dogma of the church . . . in fact, that the light of Christ could not be snuffed out, even by overzealous and mean spirited individuals, including popes and others in the so called "church" that elevated themselves into "gods" . . . little "g" . . . accused of heresy, Galileo, who had never supposed that the earth, sun or solar system existed, revolved or moved outside of God's mighty hand, was stripped of all that was important to him, ridiculed and held prisoner, first in Rome, then in his own home . . . yet nothing and no one could rob him of his own ingenious mind . . . which was a gift of a merciful God . . . to him and to a world of those who would come after him and profit from his discoveries . . . I very much enjoyed the conversations and letters between Maria Celeste and her father, although Galileo's letters to her have been lost, one can imagine the love he felt for her through her letters . . . the apothecary remedies which Maria Celeste sent to her father, taking extreme care to prepare them exactly to prescription was absolutely amazing . . . yet for herself, she took shortcuts . . . the heart and utter humility of a man that was at the cusp of such giant discoveries was also a surprise to me, Galileo saw to the care of his two daughters, his son and many others throughout his lifetime . . . he was generous and giving . . . he gave to the convent where his two daughters lived . . . he was unassuming and kind . . . yet he could carry on a conversation with the loftiest of minds . . . at a time in history when the plague and dysentery claimed the lives of thousands, Galileo lived to the age of 77, having outlived his daughter, Maria Celeste . . . Pope Urban VIII refused to allow Galileo's body to be buried next to his parents in the Basicila of Santa Croce . . . but by the grace of God, the last wishes of one of Galileo's students was honored almost a century later, when in 1737 his body was reburied in the main chapel of the basicila . . . what a fitting ending to the story . . .

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy JL Cook 04-09-17
    Amy JL Cook 04-09-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Wonderful book."

    We are traveling to Pisa and Rome this summer and this book will make our visit more special. The narrator's voice is fitting and lends an old world, Italian flavor to the text even though he doesn't have an Italian accent. The relationship between Galileo and his oldest daughter is so sweet. I learned quite a bit of history while enjoying the true story,which was my goal.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas 08-29-09
    Douglas 08-29-09 Member Since 2008

    College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.

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    "Wonderful biography"

    with science, love and personal and religious conflict. Lyrical prose.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
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  • Aquilina Christophorus
    Europe
    6/8/17
    Overall
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    Story
    "It's Not About The Daughter - Much!"
    If you could sum up Galileo's Daughter in three words, what would they be?

    One-way Traffic.<br/>We only have the letters from the Daughter, a nun- his side of the frequent correspondence got destroyed by paranoid nuns after her death, probably (don't blame them). I am waiting for the Dan Brown that finds them somewhere!!<br/><br/>The book is less about filling in the blanks from Dad's side (it's not a work of fiction, after all), and more the case of the daughter's letters being used as a guide wire that is personal and up close to the man himself, for the biography of Galileo. But do they then proffer us any new facts about his life?


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I would love to say sister Marie Celeste, the daughter, but we don't get to hear from her that much. <br/><br/>Large portions are dedicated to the climate around Galileo and the intellectual responses to his discoveries. As to be expected, eventually we will read (repeatedly) how harrangued Galileo was at inquisitions into confessing his grave error (sin) at proposing a non-geocentric model for our universe. It can only sound deplorable to our ears how the autocratic bullies forced him to return to the Ptolemeic system with an embarassing degree of arrogance and ego. It would have been more interesting for me to explore what motivated such "disbelief" and outraged accusations of heresy. Clearly there were others who were looking to expand their world view (without wishing to do away with religion). An amazing hub of control defied this however. We do not really get a sense of the panic those at this hub must have felt when they, too, studied the persuasive evidence with careful attention. <br/><br/>At times, the Sorella/daughter writes in marvellously exalted language, which is trying to egg her own piety on with stubborn resignation. It also seems to serve to butter up her father before plonking a new request for money or materials (for sewing) before him. Let us never forget, though, to ask how volunatarily, after all, she ended up at the nunnery? Despite the restrictions for visits the contact remains close and the dependency on a mundane father heavy. <br/><br/>In that sense she often sounds modern, but on the other hand she remains completely removed from the real and masculine world. It means her subjects tend to dry up and become repetitive and ordinary. She complains a lot about being too busy, this makes her letters seem to function more urgently as a life-line for a sense of a personal identity. I was amazed to discover how this might have been permitted.<br/><br/>On the up-side of the cloister, the closed off premises may have saved her life, with conditions of this particular Order too stark and the kitchen too bare to invite the rats, preserving them from infestations of their plague riddled fleas. <br/><br/>Sister Marie Celeste may humble herself with great decorum as a mere Poor Clare, but I cannot help but hear an undertone of frustration with the abject poverty they condemn themselves to.. She is often challenged by the lack of privacy and the massive amount of chores dumped upon her young, able shoulders. Her health, needless to say, is quick to weaken under the penurious circumstances. But she battles on valiantly and optimistically! (Albeit not for nearly half the length of her father’s life!) <br/><br/>So she is not just spewing high-flown spiritual ecstasy (we never discover what she believes, really), and this makes the inserted exerpts of the letters a joy to listen to. They reveal a practical woman of flesh and blood, a devoted daughter and sometimes give us a peek of something more than could be said out loud by a lady of the cloth - or so Sobel embeds the letters into contexts that may inform their meaning best. However none of the contents share something fascinatingly new about Galileo or herself. <br/><br/>We already know Galileo has no choice but to submit to whatever badgering the Church does from both sides (depleting him financially and eventually taking away his work). I can hear Galileo thinking, when beseeched for yet another donation by his daughter that it would have worked out cheaper to marry her off! Only, alas, he did not have this option with his two girls (her sister joins her), who are technically illegitimate if,obviously, not unrecognised. This illegitimate status is a definite put-off for a prospective husband, so off to a nunnery with them it had to be! Reading this,one may appreciate how far we HAVE come in a relatively short period of time over the course of 2000 years…


    Which character – as performed by George Guidall – was your favourite?

    I had a personal problem with the narration, especially when it came to the direct speech of Galileo: I had already heard Guildall in Don Quixote, and whenever I had momentarily drifted off I was called back by the outcries of what I thought was the Spanish hidalgo to find myself somewhere in La Mancha, wondering which fine mess he had got himself into, now. This befuddlement unfortunately betrays how I got a touch bored from time to time by the drone, and how Guildall’s voice is not so easy to reset back to neutral for the listener, once attached to a marked character previously.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It would be great if some people in need of reminding, read this book to realise how dogma, doctrine and doxa compromises lives and above all stunts the art of knowing (science). Some of the attitudes, methods and beliefs in Galileo’s time may seem far removed from the 21st century, but think again, about how tradition and old school institutions still rule modes of thinking and areas of research (even in the Western World). May we be remined to remain curious and open to new observations. Above all, leave people free - or even encourage them - to discover and share their bewonderment! <br/><br/>Needless to say, women's rights was a non-concept 17th Century Europe. Frustrating!


    Any additional comments?

    There is something not quite satisfying about the set-up of the book for me. Is is a biography? Is it a sketch of the threshold barring the onset of the revolution of formal science in the 17th century? Is it a study of theological impediments and the fear of the clergy of losing power to secular learning ? It’s a mix of everything, but it’s not really ever really about a father-daughter relationship beyond a superficial level. In all honesty, we have only circumstantial evidence of how Galileo felt (very warmly) towards his daughter (he paid her attention and kept supporting her financially). <br/><br/><br/>The daughter seemed to share some interest in her father’s work, but was careful not to dig too deep, realising that any controversial material would compromise her position. Or was she and did she? How much she understood his work never becomes clear to me, though Sobel speculates she was fond of peering through a telescope herself. <br/><br/>I was hoping to look on the bright side for a woman of her day but I don’t find that a career with the Church actually provides her with much of an opportunity for relative independence, or learning, nor does it gain her much respect as a woman. The ladies are still desperately dependent on a father confessor, which prooves hard to find (no man sticks it out long enough in service to the convent - eventhough, they don't even have to stay on the premises!). <br/><br/>Parts of her life at the Order, when it comes to the conditions she has to live in, read like an incarceration. Some of the medical descriptions (commonplace viruses and bacterial diseases, for which there were some pathetic herbal cures - and I'm into naturopathy!) remind us how anyone's life hung by a thread each day anew. Likewise Galileo's life was a continuous battle against a long list of nasty ailments, much criticism and a stint of actual prison (with early release owing to that poor health - and very advanced age). In short, life was tough and he died with officially nothing to show for it. A case of celebrated more in death than life... is it worth it? What else can you do?... <br/><br/>Stimulated to think such thoughts, the book, if somewhat dull, still, made a worthwhile read. <br/>

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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