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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 263

Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love, by Dava Sobel, tells the story of the life and accomplishments of Galileo from the viewpoint of Galileo’s daughter Maria Celeste. It also tells about the relationship between father and daughter, as the book was based on 124 letters Maria Celeste wrote to Galileo while she lived in seclusion as a nun at the San Matteo convent in Italy. The book documents Galileo’s life as one of the most prominent scientists of the Renaissance and his trial and conviction for heresy. Galileo promoted the idea of a heliocentric universe. This theory contradicted the views of the Catholic Church, as it rejected the idea of Earth as the center of the universe, with heaven above and hell below.

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Maria Celeste longed to spend time with her father, and her letters reveal her great admiration for the man for his scientific genius and for his strength and perseverance when his work and his views were attacked. Her letters also reveal details about 17th-century life and a time when religion was the driving force of society and a form of absolute rule. Marie Celeste’s letters reveal pure adoration and love for her father and undying support for his work, despite his heretical views and her position in the Church. In fact, Galileo’s Daughter was based solely on the letters Marie Celeste wrote to Galileo, as the letters he wrote to her were never found, presumably because they were destroyed by the nuns at the convent because they were written by a heretic.

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