a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|Jane Piper and Elizabeth Quinn are both interested in mathematics in this historical fiction novel which bounces back and forth between the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Quinn arrives in Australia as a little girl during the gold rush and helps her older brother Michael run the auction house that their parents started in a remote "boom town". Her interest in math primarily revolves around the use of an abacus which she learns from her romantic interest, a Chinese man who works for Michael.
Jane Piper is a young orphan who is obsessed with math, as is made obvious when a (now middle-aged) Michael Quinn interviews her:
Jane does come to tea and is adopted by "Uncle Michael and Aunt Elizabeth". Her mathematical nature continues to manifest itself throughout the book, but is not essential to the plot.
The plot involves the mysterious reaction that Elizabeth Quinn has to an exhibition of paintings. (She essentially collapses on the floor saying "G'woam" over and over again.) Jane helps to figure out the cause. However, aside from the fact that Jane realizes how serious the problem is when she notices an error Elizabeth made in her accounting, there is nothing particularly mathematical about that aspect of the story.
The mathematical abilities and interests of the two female protagonists are portrayed in a familiar way that I have come to think of as cliché in fiction. For example, it squeezes in a discussion of the Fibonacci sequence and its connections to both nature and art. It is a nicely written novel that keeps the reader guessing about what secrets in her own past Elizabeth is hiding from. However, as mathematical fiction, it really does not break any new ground.
I'm a bit confused about when this book was first published. It certainly became available in the USA only in 2021, but depending on where I look I see either 2019 or 2020 listed as the date of its original publication in Australia. Hopefully, that uncertainty doesn't matter much to you, but I'm sure that both Jane Piper and Elizabeth Quinn would find it quite annoying!
|Buy this work of mathematical fiction and read reviews at amazon.com.|
|(Note: This is just one work of mathematical fiction from the list. To see the entire list or to see more works of mathematical fiction, return to the Homepage.)|
(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)