A haunting first novel based on the fascinating life of an Arctic explorer whose fearless pursuit of scientific discovery revolutionized our perception of the world. In his lifetime Alfred Wegener was a German meteorologist who was better known for his offbeat scientific adventures than for his now famous theory of continental drift. In this ...
A haunting first novel based on the fascinating life of an Arctic explorer whose fearless pursuit of scientific discovery revolutionized our perception of the world. In his lifetime Alfred Wegener was a German meteorologist who was better known for his offbeat scientific adventures than for his now famous theory of continental drift. In this lushly imagined and beautifully written novel, Clare Dudman charts his life from his 1880 birth to his last daring Arctic exploration in 1930. Dudman vividly chronicles the key episodes that punctuated his life, such as his 1906 record-setting long-distance balloon flight; his several expeditions to Greenland; his passionate love for his wife; his investigations into meteorites, lunar craters, and the formation of raindrops; and his horrific experiences in the trenches of World War I. Dudman also tells of his struggle to defend his controversial theories, a struggle that forced him to leave all that he loved to make one final, fateful expedition to Greenland at the age of forty-nine. A passionate tale of obsession, endurance, courage, and love, this novel is a scintillating blend of science and history that is sure to appeal to readers of historical fiction and adventure narratives as well as to fans of Dava Sobel's successful histories.
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Publishers Weekly, 2004-02-09 In British author Dudman's stunning first adult novel, she reveals the poetry of science, interweaving a deep character study of German meteorologist Alfred Wegener (1880-1930) with scenes of pulse-pounding Arctic adventure. Today, Wegener's theory of continental drift, with some refinements, is accepted as scientific truth. During his time, however, Wegener was seen as an eccentric failure. Dudman allows Wegener to tell his own story in first-person present tense. This approach utterly immerses the reader in a sensual, detail-rich world. Dudman's prose is luminous, as in Wegener's reverie over the pages of a rare old book: "I too am adding parts of myself to the pages: oils are leaking from the skin of my hands and molecules of fat are smearing themselves invisibly on its surface." Dudman also displays an astute gift for characterization. Wegener's complex relationship with his brother Kurt and his love for his wife, Else, as measured against his lust for meteorological expeditions, is expertly, often heartbreakingly portrayed. As the story leads inexorably toward Wegener's demise in the frozen tundra of Greenland, Dudman's control over her material becomes even more masterful. The emotional yet understated final scenes are particularly fine. Above all, Dudman shows us one incontrovertible truth about her Wegener: he loved the world, in all of its riotous complexity. Some may say the same of Dudman after reading this wise, beautiful novel. (Feb. 24) FYI: In 1995, Dudman's children's novel Edge of Danger won Britain's Kathleen Fidler Award. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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