Galileo, Sun and Wine


“Galileo’s Daughter” by Dava Sobel

An elegant  book jacket drew me to this book at first as I pulled it from a bargain shelf at Half Price Books.  “A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love,” proclaimed the subtitle.  How could I resist?

The book jacket explains:  “Of Galileo’s three illegitimate children the eldest best mirrored his own brilliance, industry, and sensibility, and by virtue of these qualities became his confidante.  Born Virginia in 1600, she was thirteen when Galileo placed her in a convent hear him in Florence, where she took the most appropriate name of Suor Maria Celeste.  Her loving support, which Galileo repaid in kind, proved to be her father’s greatest source of strength throughout his most productive and tumultuous years.  Her presence, through letters which Sobel has translated from their original Italian and masterfully woven into the narrative, graces her father’s life now as it did then.”

While Sobel writes of Galileo’s scientific beliefs and his clash with the Catholic church, the book primarily focuses on the relationship between a father and daughter as they share and support the struggles of their lives via letters:  the father in his very public life and the daughter in her very sheltered existence.  The reader gains insight into both worlds.

Here is a quote from the book that gives Galileo’s description of wine.

Light held together with moisture.”

47 thoughts on “Galileo, Sun and Wine

  1. I love Dava Sobel. In college, I took a geography class ( I really suck at Science and geography fulfilled the requirement) lol! We were required to read her book “Longitude” and I absolutely fell in love with her writing! Great post!

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    • I had heard of “Longitude” and after reading this one I now want to read “Longitude.” I thought the book was going to be dull but she handled the letters well. This week I am going to a book sale at our local library and hope to find a copy. Thanks for taking time to visit and comment! (I wasn’t good at science either!)

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    • That’s me – on the off-beaten track reading books that no one else is reading or reading the best sellers past their prime. You do the same for us as you prowl (travel) where we would not think of going and then writing about it.

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  2. I read this book ages ago (like 10 years, I would guess) and loved it. Longitude was good, but this was even better. Great piece. Sobel also published the letters in a separate volume later, it is worth finding. I was stunned by them.

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  3. Thank you so much for the review! There was an article in the Smithsonian magazine recently issue. It mentioned about the book, and I have been wondering…

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    • Just want to make a correction… It was not the the Smithsonian magazine recently issue, it’s a special issue of the Universal that was published by the Smithsonian. I enjoy reading both magazine and its special issues, Have a great day!

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      • I will have to check it out. Thanks for letting me know and giving the correction. It is nice to connect with others that have read or heard it mentioned. I appreciate your taking the time to comment.

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      • Here you go– Smithsonian collector’s edition: Mysteries of the Universe, Winter 2011. I received the online Ad and ordered it just a few months ago.

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    • I always have a stack to read and sometimes forget I have a book. This one may not be for everyone but it was such a story of a daughter’s devotion to a father. And then I learned about the time and more about Galileo. Apparently others liked her other one also – “Longitude.” – that I now need to buy. Enjoy the spring!

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    • I remember about the pendulum clock that would work on a ship but could not recall details. I think my late father may have mentioned that to me as he collected and restored old pendulum clocks. Thanks for the link as I will certainly check it out.

      Your comment and visit are appreciated!

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  4. Sounds a very interesting read .. We have much to thank those early scientists for as they stepped out into the world and were often ridiculed for their New Age of thinking… Much like the pioneers of New Ideas today..

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    • It was interesting and did not get too scientific for even me. Yes, they were brave to go against the common beliefs. Where would be without them? And technology is changing so fast these days. We should be thankful for those who dare to dream. It is good to hear from you.

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  5. Jo Nell, I will have to put Dava Sobel on my Goodreads; she sounds like someone I would enjoy, and I have yet to explore her writing. I agree with the person who said you have this knack for finding gems of all sorts! Thank you for sharing.

    ~ Cara

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  6. You had me at “Half Price Books” – love that place, it’s like being a kid in a candy store. I’m not sure I’d have the sense to pick up something like this, so your review has certainly piqued my interest. Thanks for stopping by my blog and the wonderful comment; I’m still smiling. Now if it’s ok, I’m gonna hang out at *your* place for awhile 🙂

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