Denice B. (Fort Bragg, CA)
I was so hopeful about this book, but having taken three weeks to wade through only 30 pages, I cannot continue reading it, especially with the mounting pile of bed-side books beckoning!
The author and her subject are admirable and each do an expert job in her field, but slogging through the material was too much work. I'll continue to open random pages over time, gleaning what I can in that way.
Jean O. (DePere, WI)
The Discovery of Jeanne Baret
The Discovery of Jeanne Baret is a story of an obscure woman the 1700's. The book is based on history that is patchy and contradictory. The author's research appears to be extensive and thorough. The contradictions and missing pieces in the journals, ship's logs and other records that were researched lead the author to suppositions and logical outcomes. It is a scholarly piece of work. In my opinion this is not a book for everyone.
I did enjoy reading it.
Julie Z. (Bennington, VT)
The Re-discovered Jeanne Baret
Jeanne Baret was a fascinating character, who like many women, was forgotten, despite her accomplishments. She traveled the world in the time of discovery, collecting botanical specimens. On a relatively small ship, in close quarters with scores of men, she masqueraded as a man, as women were not allowed aboard.
Unfortunately, she never wrote an account of her travels, and what narratives do exist, are not consistent with one another. The author is meticulous in her scholarship, and provides much important information about the society, and gender roles of the period. Still, what Baret thought and felt can only be guessed at, and the author's guess is only that. I suppose if she didn't make a stab at imagining this, that the book would be quite short.
I found myself arguing with the author, playing devil's advocate, offering my own interpretation. Maybe if she had paralleled what she wrote about Baret with another woman's story that was better documented, I wouldn't have felt that it was more a projection of the author's emotions and ideas, than an accurate picture of Baret's.
Krista H. (Grayslake, IL)
didn't discover much
I struggled about halfway thru the book. While it seemed like it should interest me, I never could get into the flow of the story. If you are interested in Botany, I am sure this would be of interest to you. Jeanne Baret's life is remarkable, but the book didn't catch my interest enough to complete it.
Ginger K. (Ballwin, MO)
For the sake of knowledge
Well researched and downright fun describes "The Discovery of Jeanne Baret". The book is a treat for anyone interested in plants and animals as we circumvent the globe with this indomitable heroine and company. A stowaway posing as a young male on the ship she suffers hardships and perils described by the author in sometimes agonizing detail..................such was her devotion to discovering new plant life. This is realism and history shown through a personal story at its best.
Vivian H. (Winchester, VA)
18th Century Adventures in Botany
It is always a challenge to tell the story of those for which there is little written record. However, there is enough on the history of Jeanne Baret to make this a fascinating tale of a woman who should never have lived past the age of 26, yet managed to become the mistress / companion of one of France's foremost botanists, disguise herself as a man - servant, and join her companion in collecting and cataloging plant specimens from remote locales during Bougainville's circumnavigation of the earth which began in 1760.
Ridley has thoroughly researched this journey, which includes altered captain's logs and diaries with conflicting testimony about how her ruse was discovered. She was the first European women to circumnavigate the globe and an unsung heroine to those of us who appreciate the grit, resourcefulness, fortitude, resilience, and bravery of those women, in obscurity, who paved the way for the privileges we now take for granted.
Julie B. (Menomonee Falls, WI)
The Discovery of Jeanne Baret
I seldom read non-fiction, because I have the impression that it is tedious. When I started reading this book, I was sure my impression was correct. However, in later chapters, I became both fascinated and appalled by the account of the hardships Jeanne endured to be able to pursue her passion. Like other reviewers, I wish more material existed that would give more insight into Jeanne Baret. I would have liked to know more about how she felt about her experiences. She was such a brave and strong woman, and she deserves to be recognized.