A remarkable 18th-century adventure - a true story of love, murder and survival...
In 1735 a team of French scientists set out on a daring expedition into the South American wilderness to resolve one of the great scientific challenges of the time: the precise size and shape of the Earth. Scaling the Andes and journeying along the Amazon, the mapmakers faced all manner of danger, while madness, disease and violent death each took their toll. However one, Jean Godin, fell in love with a local girl called Isabel Grameson. When the time came for the expedition to return to France, Godin travelled ahead to ensure the way was safe for his new family. But on reaching French Guiana, disaster struck: Spain and Portugal closed their borders and he was stranded, unable to return to Isabel. What followed lies at the core of this extraordinary tale – a heartbreaking 20-year separation that ended when Isabel, believing she might never see her husband again, decided to make her own way across the continent: a journey that began in hope but became hell on earth…
Drawing on his own experience retracing Isabel’s epic trek as well as contemporary records, Robert Whitaker recounts a captivating true story of love and survival set against the backdrop of what many still regard as 'the greatest expedition the world has ever known'.
Robert Whitaker is a science journalist and the author, most recently, of the much-acclaimed Mad in America
. He has won the George Polk Award for Medical Writing and a National Association of Science Writers’ Award for best magazine article. He was a finalist for the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, considered US journalism’s top prize. Robert Whitaker’s long fascination with South America began in the late 1970s, when he built and lived in a bamboo hut on the Ecuadorian coast. He now lives and writes in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
‘Gripping…one of the best books I have read this year’,'An unlikely page-turner…as a testament to frustration, endurance and mutual devotion, this takes some beating','Enthralling...Full of mystery and danger, bravery and tragedy, with a rapturous love story at its core that transcends both time and continents. A marvellous read','In the brilliant tradition of Dava Sobel's Longitude...combines powerful storytelling with excellent historical research in a book that reads like a novel','An exemplary narrative history and a fascinating tale of science, love and survival',‘Epic romance, set against a vivid backdrop of discovery…a potent mix of love and science’
,‘A remarkable story that suggests a cross between Dava Sobel's Longitude
and an account of the Lewis and Clark expedition…breathtaking’
,‘This epic tale of love and scientific truth has a Marquez-ian lushness’
,‘The subhead – “a true tale of love, murder and survival in the Amazon” – sets the mood for this adventure and Whitaker delivers in spades. The publishers could have added “intrigue, heartache and girl power in 18th century Peru” and still undersold the story…there has to be a movie in it!’,‘Riveting…This is really two books in one, suited for fans of Dava Sobel's bestseller Longitude
who also appreciate a dash of romance and suspense in their historical scientific fare’