Cathleen Schine. Houghton Mifflin, New York, 1998.
A comedy of natural selection. The narrator, a wry woman named Jane, takes a tour to the Galapagos, and on the trip meets her cousin Martha. The two used to be close, confiding in one another as they grew up to-gether, but somewhere along the line the friendship ended. Jane never understood what went wrong, how and when Martha became a Martha she did not know. On the Galapagos Jane examines the death of their friendship, the origin of species and the origin of friendship. One could imag-ine many ways to write a book about how a girl selects her very best friend, but few would have thought of viewing that selection process through the prism of natural selection, contrasting the evolution of Darwin with the evolution of a life. Darwin pervades this story, not in a somber but in a highly comic way. Good natured, funny, and totally engaging, this novel is a delight.