Galileo's Daughter

  • by Dava Sobel
  • Narrated by George Guidall
  • 10 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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.
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- Jean

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.
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- Rena Alisa

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-27-2009
  • Publisher: Random House Audio