History of science was my passion in college (still is, a little) so I was excited to see a popular historical fiction book focused on scientists, and female scientists at that. But the book didn't quite live up to its concept for me. I wanted science and women fighting societal norms to make their own way in the world. And I got that--at the beginning and the end. But the middle was heavily taken up with romantic subplots that made me yawn and nearly abandon the book entirely. It's not just that I'm not interested in romance generally; the two female leads, who come alive when interacting with each other and their families, lose dimension when men come into the picture. I wonder if part of the problem is that, as the author admits, she fabricated the relationships. Maybe she does better when she has more solid historical sources to draw on.
I also found many of the characters' ruminations on science a little off, though I'm having a hard time articulating why. The way they think about and react to paradigmatic change doesn't ring true to the 19th-century scientific texts I've read. And the fact that the characters are pretty much divided between good people who embrace the theory of extinction and bad people who cling to the religious doctrine with which they'd been raised was a little frustrating. The course of science rarely runs so smooth, and people are a little more complex than that.
Still. Female scientists, hanging out together and doing science. Not many books about that around. So if that's your thing, might be worth picking it up.