Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

Deadly by Julie Chibbaro

Historical Fiction

I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did, but I loved it!  The reason?  Because I fell in love with the main character, Prudence.  She's my favorite kind of main character--plucky, curious, courageous, questioning, and hopeful.  I also love her quest for knowledge.  At a time when education for women was expensive, nearly impossible, and scholarly girls were on the path to old-maidhood, Prudence doesn't give up.  She pushes the boundaries and lines so she can learn more and become smarter.

Prudence begs for, and finally gets permission to, leave a girls' finishing school in order to get a real job, working for a scientist.  It's a perfect job for her and one that challenges her itch to learn.  The backstory is about Mary Mallon, "Typhoid Mary", and is fascinating.  I have read nonfiction about Mallon before but this book finally turned her into a real person for me.

I learned so much reading about Mallon this way rather than all the dry accounts.  Chibarro really made the history come alive, weaving in facts seamlessly to be part of the story.  The book clearly shows how the mindset of that era was different and that "Typhoid Mary" was not a cold-blooded killer, just an average citizen who didn't know how germs were spread.  Deadly is a great snapshot of life in Victorian times, both the attitude and the background.  This would be a great book for a book club.  There are so many things to talk about--a busy book!

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