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Comments for The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate: 02/03/15

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The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly takes place in the last year of the nineteenth century in Fentress, Texas. Calpurnia Tate is the only daughter in a large family where the boys have been named for Confederate heroes. Her mother wants desperately to get her ready for her debut but Calpurnia wants nothing more than to spend time with her grandfather, exploring the natural world.

Calpurnia is the first grandchild to take any interest in the grandfather's experiments. He is a naturalist and a devotee of Charles Darwin, stuck in a place where that sort of thinking is alien and dangerous. But he's an old man and a respected war hero, so he is given space to do his own thing. When he takes Calpurnia under his wing, people start to notice.

In the middle of all of this, Calpurnia and he make a discovery, a new type of hairy vetch that they can't find in any of their botany books. Much of the drama of the back half of the book is drawn up in the waiting for an answer. Is this hairy vetch something new or not?

Though the strong feminist message is the main point of the book, I got caught up in the vetch plot. Like Calpurnia, I love nothing more than exploring the nature around me. She had her creek and I have mine: Sulphur, San Lorenzo, Dry and Alameda. And along, grows a beautiful pink and purple flower, which, thanks now to Calpurnia, I know is a type of vetch. I haven't though found any new species — but that's not my thing. Mine is photography.

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Five stars

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