Friday, June 04, 2010
THE EVOLUTION OF JANE by Cathleen Schine (1998)
Jane is a twenty-something divorcee whose parents have given her the present of a trip to the Galapagos with the hope that she will put her marriage resolutely in her past. Jane is fascinated by Darwin's research and is quite delighted by the opportunity to follow in his footsteps.
When she arrives, she is greeted by the tour guide who happens remarkably to be her once-best-friend Martha, a childhood playmate from two doors down who also happens to be Jane's cousin. They fell out of touch, but now this excursion living in close quarters on a boat called the Pequod (in homage to Moby Dick), will challenge their ideas about each other.
The novel flips back and forth between Jane's childhood and the journey through the Galapagos where there is ongoing reference to Darwin's ideas and his writing as the dozen tourists tramp about the islands in awe of the flora and fauna that includes bachelor sea lions licking their amorous battle scars, miniature penguins who consider the humans annoying interlopers, and massive tortoises on whose backs, Darwin and his crew from The Beagle may well have ridden themselves.