Creating the feeling of a found document, prizewinning Australian
writer Woolfe pieces together an intriguing and expansive novel of
ideas - showing the ways in which love, motherhood, and mathematics
wrap around the human soul. Three generations of Montrose women
emerge from the narrative: Hypatia writes of her legendary mother
Francis, a gifted and acclaimed mathematician; Francis, in turn,
tells the story of her mother, the brilliant, breathtaking Juanita.
Meanwhile, Hypatia frequently offers her own narrative in the form
of disgruntled letters to Francis, or in the form of brief
biographical commentaries on some of history's great
mathematicians. The staggered segments of personal and historical
chronology help shape the central story of Francis Montrose, who
discovers for the world a whole new kind of number. Having devoted
her life to building on the work of Juanita, Francis, a ridiculed
amateur, is invited to a mathematics conference in Athens to
present her incomprehensible conjectures, which are of "such
fierce, austere beauty, you might think God is real." What she is
really hoping to give the world is a tribute to her beautiful,
aloof mother. Juanita, raised in an Australian convent when her
Spanish father was mysteriously assassinated and her mother took to
gambling, is a savant, a secret mathematical genius who spends her
later married life scribbling groundbreaking theories on scraps of
paper. Trapped in a life of domesticity while dreaming of infinity,
she pins her hopes on her beautiful son, but it is the plain and
ignored Francis who inherits the gift of the abstract mind and
becomes obsessed with becoming her mother. As the climax of the
story, Hypatia tells of the renowned "missing days" when Francis
completes her theory on a deserted Greek beach and finally slips
out from under the domineering ghost of Juanita. A lovely novel,
magical in its elevation of mathematics into a realm of divine
beauty, charming in its depiction of the equally demanding sphere
of motherhood. (Kirkus Reviews)
A prize-winning tale about three women - mother, daughter and
grandmother - and the conflicts that arise around their genius for
The Women's Press
|Country of origin:
||216 x 135mm (L x W)
||Paperback - Trade
General & literary fiction >
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