The Mathematics of Love by Emma Darwin

I don’t remember where I first saw this book, but I’ve been wanting to read it for awhile.  So, last time I was at the library, I finally picked it up.  It’s written by Emma Darwin, the great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin (just a little interesting tidbit of trivia).

A Novel

This story is part historical fiction, part modern romance.  It’s the story of two different people, Stephen Fairhurst, a wounded war veteran in 1819 England.  And, the story of Anna Ware, an English, 15-year-old teen in 1976.  The inside of the book states:

The Mathematics of Love is an intimate, poignant story of two people whose lives – amazingly, impossibly- become interwoven in a brilliant tapestry of tragedy, memory and love.

I think this is a rather accurate blurb except for one thing, it lead me to believe that the two main characters would somehow be inter-related (I’m thinking like The Time Traveler’s Wife maybe?)  Not quite so.

I really enjoyed both stories in this novel.  Stephen Fairhurst’s story of war, lost love, new love, and responsibility was touching.  It was told beautifully.  I felt for Stephen even while I disagreed with him.  I didn’t like all of his choices, but I still liked him.  The manner in which the author tells Stephen’s story does result in some suspense.  She makes suggestions about Stephen’s struggles but only gives little pieces of the whole story until she explains it fully in the last third of the book.

I didn’t like Anna’s story quite as much, but it still held my interest.  While it was written about the 70s (not historical fiction, by any means), I still felt like it was told in that manner.  It was hard for me to remember the time frame.  Again, the author doled out parts of Anna’s story and her family’s history a little at a time.  It didn’t work as well for this part of the book.

As for how the two stories intertwined, here I was disappointed.  Anna is given letters that Stephen wrote to a young woman after he inherited Kersey Hall from a cousin.  She reads them throughout her stay at Kersey Hall (Stephen’s home in 1819) where she stays with her troubled uncle and estranged grandmother.  Other than that, not much connection.  And, Anna’s interest in the letters is not a focus at all in the book.  It seemed to be just mentioned here and there.  I think, at the end, Anna may have discovered that she was related to Stephen, but I’m not totally clear on that.  Either way, I don’t think it adds to the story.

I almost feel like this could have been two separate novels and it may have worked better.  I think the author would have been able to do more with the characters in Anna’s story had it been a separate book.  I thought the characters were much better developed in Stephen’s half of the novel.

As I have mentioned in other reviews, I don’t always get the message in some of the books I’ve read.  I think this may have be true here, but I’m not sure.  I did enjoy this book, although as I read over my review, it doesn’t sound like it.  I guess it just wasn’t what I expected. 

I would recommend the book, but I wouldn’t put it at the top of your TBR list.


2 responses to “The Mathematics of Love by Emma Darwin

  1. I’ve had this book on my wish list for quite a while and you know, I’d completely forgotten what it was about. I enjoyed your review. I’ll keep it on my list but probably won’t get to it any time soon.

  2. I’d never hear of this book before. It sounds interesting. Thanks for the review.

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