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Download Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Charles and Emma: The Darwins Leap of Faith Audiobook, by Deborah Heiligman Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,193 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Deborah Heiligman Narrator: Rosalyn Landor Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2009 ISBN: 9780739380482
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Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, his revolutionary tract on evolution and the fundamental ideas involved, in 1859. Nearly 150 years later, the theory of evolution continues to create tension between the scientific and religious communities. Challenges about teaching the theory of evolution in schools occur annually all over the country. This same debate raged within Darwin himself, and played an important part in his marriage: his wife, Emma, was quite religious, and her faith gave Charles a lot to think about as he worked on a theory that continues to spark intense debates.

Deborah Heiligman's new biography of Charles Darwin is a thought-provoking account of the man behind evolutionary theory: how his personal life affected his work and vice versa. The end result is an engaging exploration of history, science, and religion for young listeners. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “A unique blend of romance, scientific observations, explanations of medical practices prevalent in the early nineteenth century, and opportunities to examine scientific discoveries and religious beliefs in detail.”


  • “This rich, insightful portrait of Charles and Emma Darwin’s marriage explores a dimension of the naturalist’s life that has heretofore been largely ignored…Readers wanting to know more will discover two brilliant thinkers whose marital dialectic will provide rich fodder for discussions of science and faith.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “This intersection between religion and science is where the book shines, but it is also an excellent portrait of what life was like during the Victorian era, a time when illness and death were ever present, and, in a way, a real-time example of the survival of the fittest.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Here is a timely, relevant book that works on several levels: as a history of science, as a biography, and, last but not least, as a romance.”

    Horn Book (starred review)

  • “Heiligman has created a unique, flowing, and meticulously researched picture of the controversial scientist and the effect of his marriage on his life and work.”

    School Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Allows readers not only to understand Darwin’s ideas, but to appreciate how Emma’s responses tempered them.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “There’s an extraordinary sense of how persistent and vigorous Darwin’s scientific thought was, and of what an unusually loving and involved parent and husband he was.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Heiligman conveys the social order of the day, the comfort religion provided, and even, yes, the evolution of Darwin’s thoughts.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “This is the ‘wow’ biography on the Darwins—meticulously researched, richly rendered, and rewarding every step of the way.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “The unlikely and happy marriage of Charles Darwin and Emma Wedgewood comes to life in Heiligman’s intelligent and fast-moving book. Emma, a devout Christian but a sympathetic editor, helped make the arguments in On the Origin of Species airtight. Meanwhile readers can almost effortlessly absorb Darwin’s ideas and the culture in which they developed, along with a portrait of Victorian everyday life.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • A 2010 Michael L. Printz Award Finalist
  • A 2009 School Library Journal Best Book
  • A 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Young Adult Literature
  • A 2009 National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature
  • A 2009 New York Times Book Review Notable Book
  • Winner of Printz Honors, 2010

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicole | 2/16/2014

    " Yeah! I really like this book! I learned a lot about evolution and a lot about Darwin I probably never would have known. And it made me really like Darwin as a person! What a romantic he was!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Garrett Nagaishi | 2/2/2014

    " This book is about Charles Darwin and his relationship with this wife, Emma. The book begins with Charles contemplating the pro's and con's of marriage, making a list on a piece of paper. He decides that while there are several good reasons to stay a bachelor his whole life, married life is preferable. While considering relatives and friends he knows, he finds Emma, a cousin with quite a different personality than his own. The book continues to illustrate the events leading to their marriage, their differences and similarities, their family and the studies and beliefs of Charles and how they affected those around him. This book is great, especially to anyone with the least bit of curiosity about Charles Darwin and his life. Even strict anti-evolutionists will enjoy learning more about Charles and discover that he may not be the same person that most people think he is. This book would especially appeal to those who enjoy romance novels (such as Jane Austen) because of the focus on Charles's and Emma's relationship. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary Ann | 1/20/2014

    " I liked the way this book showed the confluence between religious views and Darwin's developing scientific views. It was interesting for the focus on his relationship with his family. It left a few too many gaps in the scientific development of his ideas. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Liberality | 1/15/2014

    " This book explores how Darwin was very conscious of how the theory of evolution would be viewed by the religious citizens of his time. How sad is it that things haven't changed much? The book shows how he and his wife ran a very open mined and liberal household and how this benefited their children. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Miz Lizzie | 1/12/2014

    " This biography of Charles Darwin and his wife Emma focuses on their marriage. It makes much of the fact that Emma was religious and Charles was a doubter who knew that his theory of evolution would cause controversy. The problem is that the religious disagreement between Emma and Charles never caused any major conflict because they loved each too much to let it. The author does make much of this as a lesson to us all today to just get along whatever side of the creationist/evolutionary divide we find ourselves on. I had been looking forward to reading this book but I ended up finding the author's voice and agenda too intrusive. I also found that while I am quite forgiving -- and often even appreciative -- of sentence fragments and playing fast and loose with other grammatical rules in fiction writing (as I consider it part of the artistic license on the author's part), I expect more serious and correct English in my non-fiction. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen Holt | 1/10/2014

    " I love historical fiction and this book conveyed the conflict between Charles Darwin's theories and his wife's religiousness. He accomplished so much even though he came back from his voyage with a lingering illness. Inspiring . . "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Molly | 12/19/2013

    " This was very interesting -- although I'm not sure why they think it is a teen book -- adults would be the main audience I think... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amy | 12/4/2013

    " Glad I read it. Could've been worse. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tasha | 11/20/2013

    " Loved it. Very interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jama Rooney | 11/3/2013

    " Dry reading. Most YAs would not want to read this. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Molly | 4/20/2013

    " Though it took a while for me to get into this title, I did very much enjoy it. The narration was excellent. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ann | 1/21/2013

    " Just didn't catch my attention. The facts were all there, but the storytelling was not. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alison 710 | 11/8/2012

    " Loved it!!! You have to like science and history to enjoy it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy | 8/28/2012

    " This book made me fall in love with Charles Darwin a little bit. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Angie | 4/1/2012

    " I have read about Charles Darwin before. This told more about his family and relationships and I liked that. The book I read before was more about his travels earlier in his young adult life and the beginnings of his theories on evolution. It was a tad slow going for me though. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda Atkinson | 6/7/2011

    " I love all things darwin, and this book was no exception. However, there were parts that were redundant that slowed the reading enjoyment. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 5/14/2011

    " Though I am struggling to read more nonfiction and found parts of the book repetitive, I was moved by the love story of Charles and Emma and in awe of their ability to look past their huge ideological differences. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Emily | 5/2/2011

    " While not a page turner, this book provides great insight into how Darwin's theory evolved. (Pun intended.) It also illustrates how different life was not so long ago. A good way to learn a bit about an important piece of scientific history without too much scientific data. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anna | 4/28/2011

    " Loved it! Such a positive portrayal of marriage. And who knew Emma Darwin was so good at playing the piano that she took lessons from Chopin?! (Probably lots of people but I didn't know it.) I think that Roslyn Landor did a wonderful narration job too. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mandy | 4/13/2011

    " It reads like a love story! Easy and interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jen | 4/10/2011

    " Amazingly researched. Heiligman integrates facts and quotes into her narrative absolutely seamlessly. Lovely. Also loved narrator Rosalyn Landor. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leslie | 4/9/2011

    " 4 out of 4 STARS I really loved this book that had a very interesting and real take on the life of the Darwins. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Johanna | 4/4/2011

    " A biography for kids. Pretty tame stuff. A little dry. "

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About the Author
Author Deborah Heiligman

Deborah Heiligman has written many books for children.

About the Narrator

Rosalyn Landor has won twelve AudioFile Earphones Awards and been a finalist for the Audie Award. She has worked as an actor since the age of seven, both in Europe and the United States. Her extensive list of credits includes leading roles in film, theater, and audio productions, as well as in various miniseries on all the major television networks and in such productions as Masterpiece Theatre’s Sherlock Holmes and Rumpole of the Bailey.