Saturday, August 1, 2009

Book Review: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tatehappens over one eventful and hot lazy summer in the year 1899. Callie Vee discovers not only a love for nature, but a fellow scientist in her granddaddy. But, with her oldest brother finding first love and her mother noticing her lack of cooking and sewing skills, Calpurnia may not be able to pursue her new found studies.

Things I liked:
Calpurnia. Her grandfather. The scientific discussions that they carry out. The family relationships that are accurately portrayed and very real. I love this family, particularly the numerous brothers that Grandfather can't keep straight, let alone me. The view of life from a child - how simple things are and how interesting when you see them for the first time. And the glorious writing. Wow, she can spin a lovely sentence. Here's an example:
"Stitches dropped themselves and later reappeared at random so that the long striped scarf I was knitting bulged in the middle like a python after dining on a rabbit. I fancied that a malevolent Rumpelstiltskin crept into my room at night and undid my best work, turning the gold of my efforts into pathetic dross on a wheel perversely spinning backward." p.213
Things I didn't like:
Mostly the lack of actual story. There didn't appear to be much in the way of plot, but I think that was intentional. This read almost like a memoir of a childhood in Texas. But, sometimes, I got a little bored waiting for something to happen.

I kept thinking of the last memoir I read, A Girl Named Zippy - childhood perspective and all
A bit Anne of Green Gables ish

s-factor: !

One or two.

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ****


  1. If you like childhood memoirs, like "A Girl Named Zippy" (but better,in my opinion) you might like "Little Heathens" and "Wait Till Next Year". "Litte Heathens" takes place in the 1930s and "Wait Till Next Year" is about growing up in the 50s. I really liked them both. I like that kind of book so will read Calpurnia Tate. Thanks for the review. I love your blog.

  2. Thanks for the recommendations. I did love Little Heathens, but haven't read Wait Till Next Year. I'll have to add that to my TBR list. Hope you like Calpurnia!


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