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Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars History and great scientific discoveries, romance and heartbreaking tragedy, 3 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: The Mapmaker's Wife: A True Tale Of Love, Murder And Survival In The Amazon (Paperback)
Despite what other reviewers have said, I think this is one of the best books I've read in a long time. However, don't be fooled by the title. It is not just a love story. Anyone looking solely for historical romance, will be bored and disappointed. However, if you are willing to give the book a chance anyway, you will find a fascinating history of one of the great questions of science. The first part of the book focuses on an expedition of French scientists in Peru measuring a degree of arc at the equator. The history of how the shape of the earth was understood and the subsequent story of the expedition are fascinating and you'll breeze through the chapters. Just like Dava Sobel's Longitude, the Mapmakers Wife reads like a novel, but is non-fiction writing at its best. In the second half we learn that one member, Jean Godin, has married a local girl, Isabel Grameson. When they decide to leave for France, he makes his way down the Amazon ahead of her with the promise to return as soon as possible and pick her up. What follows is a twenty year separation and a tragic tale of one woman's unbelievable perseverance through the Amazon jungle. Due to political and bureaucratic problems, Godin is unable to return to Riobamba by way of the Amazon. Why he didn't arrange a different route remains a mystery and Whitaker tells us "he never gave such options a thought." Instead Isabel, her two brothers and her seven-year old nephew make their way down the Amazon with a small party of helpers . The Amazon jungle itself is a character in the book and you would never realize how hard it would be to survive there. One would think that food, at least, would be widely available, but sadly we learn that it is hardly different than had they gotten lost in a desert. I think I read the whole book in two sessions. As cliché as this might sound, I simply could not put it down.
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