a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
This is a romance novel set in Victorian England in which the heroine is a biologist studying inheritance and the hero is her friend who publishes and presents her work in his name. The story begins when the hero decides he needs to end the lies for family reasons. He offers to find her a new cover or help her come out as the true author of all these works. He wants to move on in his own direction using the statistical methods he has learned from her. He has decided to apply these methods to trade with a realistic application to trade futures. The mathematics is a fundamental part of the plot and is done correctly. The story explores the consequences of his decision and what the countess decides to do. I find the countess to be an incredibly realistic character and quite the mathematical type. The minor characters are also excellent, including the heroine's mother and sister, and the hero's brother and mentor. The hero is perhaps too good to be true, but this is a romance novel. It not only deals with sexism but also with the disregard a family can have even for a male scientist, and the opposition to science by those who feel science threatens religion. It deals with the way women can judge a woman negatively for not being feminine enough. As a warning to readers, the countess has explicit memories of both positive and negative sexual experiences with her late husband. However, the relationship between the hero and heroine is incredibly endearing and gentle.
This author has written a number of feminist victorian era romance novels. This particular novel pivots so seriously about the hero's choice to apply the mathematics he's learned from the heroine, that I feel it must be considered a work of math fiction. There are other romance novels with mathematicians but usually the mathematics itself is not really part of the plot.
Interestingly, as I have learned from Professor Sormani, Courtney Milan has both a math and a chem BA from UC Berkeley and started a doctorate in physical chem before switching to law. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School and worked as a law professor before becoming a full time novelist. However, despite her undergraduate math degree, Milan did not include much math in this story at all. This novel can be appreciated for its feminist viewpoint as well as for being enjoyed as a romance, but do not purchase it hoping to see a lot of mathematics in it.
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(Maintained by Alex Kasman,
College of Charleston)