Each time after reading the first two books, I told myself I wasn't going to read the next one, because I really dislike the way she setup the characters. To explain more would be a plot spoiler for book 1, sorry. But yet, I keep on picking up the next book and reading it.
Characters' lives aside, Anna Lee Huber writes a good mystery. The plots are generally intricate and mostly avoid the trite or well-worn paths of the genre. This one was no different, except that it's setting up a multi book arc with a nemesis, and I'm pretty wishy-washy about nemeses. I also got a little bit tired of the constant references to Verity's spy career during the war. I suspect this is a Kensington editorial thing as it's the type of over-reference I find a lot in their books, making me wonder if they underestimate their readers' abilities to reading comprehension.
Generally an enjoyable read, but once again, I find myself thinking I might not buy the next one, though of course, I probably will anyway.
An excellent sequel to 'I Will Always Love You' starring Dean as the 'Red Hood' in his latest movie. Marvin Metatron is proving troublesome as a douchebag director. Dean is suffering (unacknowledged) PTSD since the events of book one.
"At least now he has Cas, his bodyguard turned boyfriend turned love of his fucking life by his side."
This is a lovely biography of an early female scientist, by an author who clearly put a lot of care and interest into learning about Maria Sibylla Merian and her work. Born in Germany in the mid-17th century, Merian trained as an artist but was fascinated by the metamorphosis of insects from childhood. She continued to study them throughout her life, observing and creating gorgeous paintings of their life stages, and ultimately traveled from Amsterdam to Suriname in 1699 to study insects there, in one of the earliest European scientific voyages. She was a pioneer of ecology: studying life in its natural context rather than collecting dead specimens to observe under a microscope.
A challenge the author faces is that little material about Merian’s personal life survived, though she left lots of notes and artwork. So there is some speculation here, though Todd often suggests multiple possibilities where we don’t know the answer rather than pushing for a particular interpretation. What we do know about Merian’s life is so tantalizing that I wish we had more: what really happened in her marriage, which resulted in a divorce at a time when this was highly unusual? What led her to join, and then leave, the severe, cult-like Labadist sect, and what was life like in it? There’s a lot we don’t know, but Todd fills in many of the blanks with history, by researching life in Germany, the Netherlands and Suriname at the time Merian lived in these places. I’m surprised others have found the book dry; to me it had a quiet warmth that really drew me in.
Unusually for a biography, this book continues well after Merian’s death, which occurs on page 225 out of 282. It then follows her daughters, her scientific legacy, and recent developments in ecology and studies of metamorphosis, all of which adds a lot to the book. I’d love to see more biographies engage with the context of their subjects in this way. There are also black-and-white illustrations as well as some color plates, many showing Merian’s work, though for me reading this alongside the illustrated children’s book Maria Sibylla Merian: Artist, Scientist, Adventurer was great because that one provides such a wealth of color paintings by Merian.
In the end, I enjoyed this a lot: it’s intelligent, accessible, and wide-ranging in its subject matter while telling what we know of the story of a remarkable woman. I love that Todd wrote this book at all: it’s surprisingly hard to find historical biographies (at least in English) of people who spoke languages other than English, and if they’re women without adventurous sex lives, forget it! But from these biographies Merian emerges as a fascinating person who deserves to be remembered.