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4/6 stars: Good book that I found worthwhile to read, but wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to everybody.

Everything species that is living now are those that chose to struggle to live instead of give up and die. That’s the takeaway I got from this book.

This was the pick for a book club I was going to try out. I had put it on hold at the library and I’m pretty sure my eyes bugged when the librarian pulled the almost-500-page tome off the shelf and handed it to me. I haven’t read something that long since college.

And that said, it could have been about 200 pages shorter than it actually was. The book covers the entire lifetime of its protagonist, Alma Whittaker. Her life doesn’t get interesting until she’s of marriageable age. Once she hits that point, the book reads like a soap opera set in the Victorian era. There’s a hint of feminist pull in that Alma is an innovative botanist with research that gets published right along next to her male counterparts. She ultimately derives the theory of evolution around the same time Darwin does, but she’s not all that disappointed when Darwin publishes his first. She also lets the fact that she doesn’t get to have a regular marriage and family put a damper on life.

As a whole though, I enjoyed reading the book and I was surprised that I was motivated enough to get all the way through it.

Disappointingly, my husband had rehearsal the night of the book club meeting so I was housebound with the baby. I discovered, however, that the deadline of a book club meeting is enough motivation to get me to read a 500-page novel! So I just have to find another one then!