a graphic novel


Claire Burch


$19.95 / ISBN-10: 1-58790-116-1 / 339 pages  /  5.5” x 8.5” / paperback / illustrated


Fiction / Graphic Novel


This novel about Emma Wedgewood, wife of Charles Darwin, centers around her hallucinative mind. Her grief at the death of their child Annie is given a bizarre twist by some ergot mold on the bread she uses for her pudding; her world becomes the twentieth century. Burch presents her husband’s sympathetic letters which contain fragments from Darwin’s Expression of the Emotions In Man and Animals and contributions from other characters such as the social worker and Emma’s unusual later offspring, Ralph Waldo Business Administration. Burch, whose abilities with fiction are complemented by her previous research and publications in psychiatry, experiments with narrative voice by apparently doing away with it. This technique is striking, like overhearing a conversation of strangers in the dark. Are these the imaginings of Charles Darwin’s wife, or is she someone who thinks she’s Darwin’s wife? She lives in our time or does she just think she lives in our time?  The reports of Emma’s caseworker place the wife among us struggling with her schizophrenia, her kids and her ex who won’t fork over past due child support payments. Contemporary slang jolts the reader in its juxtaposition to Darwinian ideas. Hundreds of  line drawings by the author continue the mystery. The unexpected is well presented here.


I recall “starvation days” in New York City when Claire and James Baldwin and I struggled with early efforts. I remember Jimmy and I agreeing that of the three of us Claire had the only claim to genius..

          —Elliot Baker, author of A Fine Madness


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