A modern detective story, a historical account of the struggles of one of the world's greatest scientists, and a World War II espionage story, all in one novel. The modern day search for a secret paper written by Charles Darwin, in which he explains in depth his thoughts about the existence of God, which he did not dare to publish in his lifetime because of its contentious nature. Along the way the book explores the spiritual struggle within the extraordinary Darwin household, and the effects of that same struggle on the creation of the atom bomb and on modern terrorism.
THE JOURNAL OF EMMA DARWIN
June 4th, 1857
..... I have left Charles at home this time, in the good care of the servants, for he is now in the throes of his most intense period of work yet (is it any wonder that his constitution wilts under the strain?). There are signs that others working in his field are approaching similar conclusions to his own about the nature of existence, and his friends are all exhorting him to publish his findings before some upstart comes out with a superficial pamphlet or paper and steals his thunder. That would be a catastrophe, negating all his decades of painstaking research. It is now more than four years since we ejected the last of the odious barnacle creatures from the house, and since then C has been concentrating on what he sees as his grandest work - the book which will summarise all his thoughts about nature and explain his conclusions on the evolutionary process. So exhausted is he by the magnitude of the task that I have heard my mild mannered Charley refer to it as his ‘abominable volume’ and his ‘everlasting species opus’ and various other epithets too extreme to mention here. He worries as do I about the furore the book will provoke, and yet he still feels it is his duty to write it, else all his years of work and contemplation will have been for nothing.
As always I struggle with my doubts that in some obscure way the afflictions that affect our family are perhaps the Lord’s way of warning him against the nature of his conclusions. These are so against all that the human race has ever held sacrosanct, all that the Bible and the Prophets have taught us, that it must come as no surprise that God should react in some way against such an assault on his sovereignty. Yet when I hint at this to C he simply says mildly, “Why would He visit His displeasure upon our children, who are surely not responsible for their parent’s misdeeds?”
Of course he is right. It is ‘the sins of the father’ on the one hand, and ‘suffer little children’ on the other. The more I wrestle with the whole question of my dear husband’s doctrine the more confused I become!
And yet there is a part of me that cannot help but take pleasure in his researches. Without them our lives would have been immeasurably the poorer. Despite all the years of vile smells and sights throughout the house, the jars bubbling with fermenting vegetation and the pots with boiling corpses, the sinks and buckets filled with rotting carcasses, the shelves and surfaces piled with skeletons and specimens, the daily arrivals of parcels containing ever stranger and more macabre samples, the greenhouses and beds sprouting with foreign flora - despite all this there is an everlasting fascination at the gigantic enterprise, which affects not only me but all the children, and even the servants (who have to attempt to maintain some sort of order in the midst of the mayhem). I can reflect back over the years at such a wealth of incidents, which are like a kaleidoscope of images in my memory: my husband and Revd Innes huddled together over a honeycomb crawling with bees, with no thought for their own protection from stings; our beloved Annie patiently taking down endless pages of notations in the study as her father measures and weighs; the younger children rushing around the fields and woodlands with nets and buckets in the quest for some obscure plant or insect; the cluster of young heads around the table as their father delicately cuts open the gruesome corpse of a dead beast; the thunder down the stairs in the mornings to see if the tadpoles have appeared or the pigeon’s eggs hatched; Nurse Brodie screaming in fright at finding a family of toads housed temporarily in a bread bin in the pantry; the entire household searching fearfully throughout the premises for an escaped poisonous reptile from some tropical region; myself playing the piano whilst C observes the reactions to the music of a jar of earthworms placed on the lid; his own exclamations of delight at receiving a parcel of animal dung from the Far East which he then proceeds to dissect in search for undigested seeds and insect eggs; the animated arguments around the dinner table of all our learned academic friends whilst C sits at the head silently listening with that benign smile upon his face that I know so well. The memories are so many and so dear that I would not be without them for all the sermons from the pulpit that I ever heard. Thine be the glory.
MEET THE AUTHOR
One of Britain's most widely produced playwrights, with productions in over 40 countries and 20 languages. Now concentrating on novel writing, after enthusiastic Amazon reader reviews of first novel, A RUSTLE IN THE GRASS.