Aug 8, 2009

The Origin

A Biographical Novel of Charles Darwin
by Irving Stone

I am giving up on The Origin. For weeks it has been my put-to-sleep book, meaning I know if I read it in bed, I'll be nodding off within ten minutes. The last few times I tried to read it, my mind was wandering within just a few pages. I can tell the author did a staggering amount of research- it seems that every available scrap of diaries, letters and publications written by Darwin or his family or companions was utilized. But the material is all put together in very choppy, cut and paste fashion. I'd be reading an interesting bit of conversation and the next sentence he's standing on the deck of the boat the following morning. No transitions to speak of. Also, there was tons of information about the background of all the other people involved- the captain of the ship, crew members, other scientists, people he ran into on the voyage, etc- when what I really wanted to read about was his discoveries and speculations; there wasn't nearly enough detail about those things. I did learn a lot about Darwin- I didn't know before that he was going to be a clergyman, that his first interest was geology, that during the voyage he saw a lot of things that suggested evolution, before he ever reached the Galapagos Island -sadly, I did not reach those shores with him. I think it is just me- my interests don't quite match up with what this author is presenting, and I can't get through the heft of some seven hundred pages to glean what I want. So I'll leave this tome for another reader, someone more keen on historical fiction than I am. And now I have to find another long book to read for the 9 for '09 Challenge...

Abandoned........ 765 pages, 1980

More opinions at:
FamGuy Today
50 Book Challenge
anyone else?


  1. Possession is proving to be my not-finished book of this year. I keep looking at it and feeling guilty. I was enjoying it, so why don't I want to pick it up and finish it?

    I'm afraid if this book on Darwin put you to sleep, I'd be asleep as fast, too!

  2. I kept hefting this one and feeling guilty, too. But you know what? Once I decided to just stop, I felt so relieved! I guess I really wasn't enjoying it much.

  3. You'd do far far better to read Darwin's own account of his voyages around the world - "Voyage of the Beagle". It's fascinating historically and scientifically.

    My review here

  4. Resolute Reader- thanks so much for the suggestion. I am going to see if I can find a copy of that one.


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