Paris, 1815. Napoleon has just surrendered at Waterloo and is on his way to the island of St. Helena to begin his exile. Meanwhile, Daniel Connor, a young medical student from Edinburgh, has just arrived in Paris to study anatomy at the Jardin des Plantes - only to realize that his letters of introduction and a gift of precious coral specimens, on which his tenure with the legendary Dr. Cuvier depends, have been stolen by the beautiful woman with whom he shared a stagecoach.
In the fervor and tumult of post revolutionary Paris, nothing is quite as it seems. In trying to recover his lost valuables, Daniel discovers that his beautiful adversary is in fact a philosopher-thief who lives in a shadowy world of outlaws and émigrés. Daniel's fall into this underworld is also a flight, for as he falls in love with the mysterious coral thief and she draws him into an audacious plot that will leave him with a future very different from the one he has envisioned for himself, Daniel discovers a radical theory of evolution and mutability that irrevocably changes his conception of the world in which he lives.
An epic tale of change, love, and science set against the backdrop of post-Revolutionary France... Overlaid on top of the excellently executed historical fiction is a page-turning mystery that will keep readers riveted... The narrative ranges from delightful scenes at the Jardin des Plantes, the epicenter of naturalist research, to the twisted, dark alleys of the poorer sections of Paris, and each moment transports the reader to a bygone era. (Reviewed by Sarah Sacha Dollacker).
The Washington Post
With consummate skill and compassion, Stott plunges Daniel the innocent into a serpentine plot that involves spies, philosophers, revolutionaries and scientists. Treasure may be at the heart of Stott's mystery, but fossils and corals are equally precious in this hybrid novel of action and ideas. Like Daniel, the reader emerges from "The Coral Thief" having had an adventure and an education.
A vivid mix of love story and pre-Darwin evolutionary debate, unfurled at the edges of a Les Misérables-style underworld. Science may not seem sexy, but Stott comes close to making it so.
Starred Review. Vividly atmospheric, propulsive and intricately plotted, this is a surefire page turner with literary heft and wide appeal.
Starred Review. Stott again skillfully combines an intriguing love story, complex scientific concepts, and a beautifully realized historical setting…Riveting on all fronts, from its suspenseful plot to its elegant presentation of evolutionary theory.
Starred Review. Stott once again juxtaposes science with a tale of love, mystery and intrigue, setting this volatile mix against a backdrop of critical events in post-Revolutionary France… Skillfully embeds early 19th-century culture, history, and attitudes into a story that.
Starred Review. The prose is elegant and well paced, and the plot is filled with exciting twists and turns. Highly recommended.
The Jardin des Plantes and the Changing Landscapes of Botanical Gardens
des Plantes in Paris was the epicenter of naturalist research in the early 1800s and is currently one of the world's foremost botanical gardens. Built in 1626,
it was planted in 1635 as a medicinal herb garden for the King of France. It
was opened to the public in 1640, greatly expanded under superintendent G.L.L
Buffon, and eventually developed into a center of scientific study. Georges
Cuvier, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, the Jussieu brothers, and other prominent scientists
of the time were all associated with the Jardin des Plantes and conducted research
there. During the early 19th century, the facility supported expeditions to
different parts of the world to acquire large numbers of plants and animals
that had previously been unknown to the Western world.
The Jardin des Plantes' transition from medicinal...
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