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.”