The Evolution of Annabel Craig

The Evolution of Annabel Craig

by Lisa Grunwald
Setting: Tennessee
Genres: Fiction / Historical / General
Published on April 16, 2024
Pages: 320
Format: eBook Source: Library

I had never questioned a miracle, witnessed a gunfight, or seen a dead body. . . . I had thought I knew exactly what I wanted and what I didn't. Before the summer was over, all that and much more would change.
Annabel Hayes—born, baptized, and orphaned in the sleepy conservative town of Dayton, Tennessee—is thrilled to find herself falling quickly and deeply in love with George Craig, a sophisticated attorney newly arrived from Knoxville. But before the end of their first year of marriage, their lives are beset by losses. The strain on their relationship is only intensified when John T. Scopes is arrested for teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution at the local high school.

Foreshadowing today’s culture wars, the trial against Scopes is a spectacle unlike any the country has seen. William Jennings Bryan—a revered Southern politician—joins the prosecution, pitting himself and his faith against the renowned defense attorney Clarence Darrow. Journalists descend in a frenzy, thrusting the town and its citizens into the national spotlight. And when George joins the team defending Scopes, Annabel begins to question both her beliefs and her vows.

As the ongoing trial divides neighbor against neighbor, it also divides the Craigs in unexpected ways. But in the midst of these conflicts—one waged in an open courtroom, the other behind closed doors—Annabel will discover that the path to her own evolution begins with the courage to think for herself.

I’ve never seen any recent historical fiction written around the Scopes Monkey Trial. When I saw this on my library app, I jumped all over it.

Annabel is dealing with strain in her marriage when she witnesses some local men decide to answer an ad in the newspaper for a teacher who was arrested for teaching evolution in Tennessee. They thought it would bring tourism to their tiny town. It doesn’t matter that John Scopes hadn’t been arrested or that no one was sure if he had even taught evolution. He agreed to do it so they called the lawyers who wanted a test case and the media circus came to town.

Suddenly Annabel’s husband is invigorated by being on the defense team. She is working several jobs around town. She’s meeting people with new ideas. She’s being estranged from friends who are furious with her for not stopping her husband from defending Scopes.

I loved this book. I read it in a day. I loved watching Annabel learn that there was more to her world than her small town. There were more ways of thinking than the way she was raised. She needed to decide what was right for her.