The mathematics of love defies arithmetic . . . The Mathematics of Love is an intimate, poignant story of two people whose lives--amazingly, impossibly--become interwoven in a brilliant tapestry of tragedy, memory, and love. Moving from the modern English countryside to the mountains of nineteenth-century Spain, Emma Darwin's extraordinary narrative beautifully evokes the horrors of war, the pain of loss, the heat of passion, and the timeless power of love.
1819. Stephen Fairhurst, a veteran of Waterloo, is weary of war. Wounded in body and spirit from battles both bloody and heartbreaking, he returns to Kersey Hall from a self-imposed exile in Spain. Amid the verdant beauty and quiet stillness of the countryside he yearns for solitude, but instead meets a most unexpected new acquaintance: the unconventional Lucy Durward.
This debut novel from Charles Darwin's great-great-granddaughter combines fiction, history and family legacy. Having lost a leg at the Battle of Waterloo, Stephen Fairhurst, ensconced at Kersey Hall, is not surprised that Hetty Greenshaw rejects his marriage proposal. But he is caught off guard when he finds he can share his darkest thoughts with Hetty's independent, artistic sister, Lucy Durward, who is fascinated by early attempts at photography. When Lucy accompanies Hetty and Hetty's new husband to Europe, Stephen escorts them around the battlefield where he once fought. Alternating with Stephen and Lucy's tale is the story of 15-year-old Anna Ware, left at Kersey Hall with her Uncle Ray in 1976 while her mother vacations. Uncle Ray has just shut down Kersey Hall School and taken in Anna's grandmother, a cruel drunk. Anna befriends neighbors Eva and Theo, who introduce her to photography and teach her about love. Darwin describes art, photography and warfare in meticulous detail. A gifted observer and novice storyteller, she loses her narrative way focusing on secondary characters (Stephen's mistress, the neglected boy Cecil), but she finds it in Anna's voice, Stephen's story and her portrait of Lucy. (Jan.)
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January 02, 2007
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Excerpt from The Mathematics of Love by Emma Darwin
Had I not been there, no account, no print, no evidence of witnesses could have made me believe what I saw that day.
I had arrived at the Durwards' home only the evening before, and on the morrow there was enough uneasiness reported for Mr. Durward to feel obliged to go early to his printworks. His elder daughter, Miss Durward, was absent, and as the morning wore on, his younger daughter, Mrs. Greenshaw, could no longer disguise her anxiety for her sister. She set ever more stitches awry, and even wondered aloud if she ought to send for her son, Tom, to be fetched home from his favorite playground in the woods. In such a case I would always have offered my services to find and escort Miss Durward home. But I should mention that Mrs. Greenshaw was the young widow whose affections, though we all cloaked the fact in other words, I had come into Lancashire to engage.
My offer was greeted with relief and gratitude, and I received my orders: I must seek Miss Durward in the town, at the house of her old nurse Mrs. Heelis, which was in Dickinson Street, hard by St. Peter's Field, where the meeting which was the cause of so much unease was to take place. It was rumored that the magistrates were even now mustering the militia to disband the meeting. In the town, every shop that I could see was boarded up, every window shuttered, and while we were yet some distance away, my hack was brought to a halt by the absolute solidity of the crowd all about us. I paid it off and made my way on foot through the hot streets, assisted by the movement of the mass, which was almost as steady as I was accustomed to observe in the Peninsula, though rather more motley, and very much more good-tempered. As we arrived on open ground not far from Dickinson Street the crowd became still more tightly packed.