If you've read my blog for any length of time you'd notice I don't accept review copies frequently. But when I got an email from Crown Publishing and read the excerpt about The Discovery of Jeanne Baret "history’s most elusive cross dresser, botanist, and global navigator. Jeanne is one of history’s forgotten hero’s – as a trailblazing woman and brilliant scientist whose life reads like a gripping historical fiction", I knew I had to read it.
If you're like me, you've probably never heard of Jeanne Baret and no idea that a woman sailed around the world in 1766. Ridley does a lot of research to tell Jeanne's story. Not only research about Jeanne herself, but there is so much history packed into this book. I learned about women in France around that time and how herb women were teaching doctors and botanists about plants. I learned about naval history and how ships were packed for trips around the world. Also my geography skills are terrible. I kind of wish the book would have had a map so I could reference where they were and where they were going. I learned where the Strait of Magellan is and added Tierra de la Fuego to my list of places I'd like to visit.
But no amount of research is going to tell us how the voyage was really for Jeanne. We only have the diaries of the men on the journey to tell us what happened. So there is some guessing about what would have happened to her and how she might have felt. But I was delighted to learn about this heroic woman who expanded the world's knowledge of herbs, plants, and insects.
I'm delighted to have two copies of The Discovery of Jeanne Baret (courtesy of Crown Publishing) for my US readers. To enter, leave a comment on this post (with an email address or someway for me to get a hold of you). This giveaway will close on 1/19 at 5pm PST.