Review: Soul

Soul by Tobsha Learner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very good (like 4.5 stars good). Nature vs. Nurture. Free will vs. genetics. Pure logic vs. the heart wanting what it wants. The story is told in two threads. Julia, our modern day geneticist & Lavinia, her great-great grandmother. The women's lives unfold for us as their marriages unravel & the aftermath of the events follow. I very much enjoyed that both women were scientifically minded & took their work seriously. I felt for Lavinia when she was cut off from hers & was glad Julia still had hers when everything else fell apart. Julia's research with the soldiers was a fascinating thread of the story & I still don't know on which side I am of the ethical implications of her undertaking it for the military. I'll be thinking about that for some time. That said, I enjoyed the resolution to it at the end. I did like how the Bakairi tribe & The Tempest were additional threads that tied the two women's stories together across time.

I was very interested in both women but I only really felt any empathy for Colonel Huntington (though the head shaving of Lavinia & subsequent forced visit to the phrenologist tested that). Julia's husband Klaus was just not sympathetic to me. Every time he showed up after the initial break, he seemed worse. I figured out fairly quickly what Carla's attitude was about & while I was appalled by her brazenness & borderline cruelty, I still wanted to know what made her tick. I was fairly intrigued by Hamish. Gabriel & Aloysius were only nominally interesting but her served their purpose well. I felt the same way about Lady Morgan. Naomi was interesting but not as deeply rendered as the rest.

The only thing a bit off was that the Americans in Julia's thread, don't speak generally as Americans do. Those instances stood out glaringly to me, not the least being that the instances were so frequent. Using "ring" instead of "call", "jumper" instead of "sweater" or "cardigan"; "primary" school teacher instead of "elementary" school teacher; "laying" a table instead of "setting" a table; a waitress in a diner saying saying "one serve of bacon, eggs..." instead of "one order of..."; a born & raised in L.A. soldier saying "get on" instead of "get along"; "night porter" not "security guard". And even with all of those, they were only distractions because it was still a great read. I'd definitely read another by this author.

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