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The Evolution of Annabel Craig

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Annabel, a very naive farm girl marries a young lawyer who gets involved in the Scopes trial in 1925. Very interesting time in American history and a subject that I knew nothing about. I learned so much and read as Annabel evolved along with the story! Definitely a 5 star read!

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Set in 1925 during the Scopes Trial, this story gives a vivid account of what took place in Dayton, TN when teacher John Scopes pleaded guilty of teaching evolution to his high school class. This American legal case which pitted the Fundamentalists who believed everything was explained through the Bible against the Modernists who believed in the explanations of science brought national fame to Clarence Darrow, one of America’s most controversial defense attorneys and William Jennings Bryan, a popular Southern politician.

The story is told through the eyes of Annabel and George Craig, a fictional newly married young couple who maintained traditional roles in their marriage. When attorney George is selected to serve on the team with Mr. Darrow, the strains in their relationship begin to grow. While Annabel supports her husbands efforts, she starts to evaluate her happiness in their marriage and in her life in general.

Ms. Grunwald did incredible research for this book and I learned a lot about the events surrounding this historic trial. There was much detail about the religious aspect of the event which weighed me down a bit. Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for providing me the opportunity to read an advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

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A stunning book….great characters, setting and story..inspired by actual testimony and events surrounding 1925 Scopes Evolution Trial. So impressed with this story, I checked out the library book A Photographic History of the Scopes Trial. Author notes at end were particularly interesting and informative. Thanks to #NetGalley and #TheEvolutionaOfAnnabelCraig for advanced digital copy.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Evolution of Annabel Craig by Lisa Grunwald
2024 Publication Date: April 16


Best Women's Fiction Books
T.I.M.E. Best Book Club Books
T.I.M.E. Best Books By Genre | Best Historical Fiction
T.I.M.E. Most Anticipated Books Of 2024

In the stirring tapestry of Lisa Grunwald's The Evolution of Annabel Craig, women readers are invited to weave through the complex emotional threads of Annabel Hayes' life as she grapples with the seismic shifts of love, loss, and belief against the backdrop of the electrifying 1925 Scopes Trial...

This compelling book earns a place on my Best Women Fiction Books, Best Historical Fiction Books and Best Book Club Book lists, as it masterfully entwines the personal and the political, prompting us to ponder the perennial struggle between tradition and progress... And navigating spiritual faith and science.

There is no doubt that the story elements and the primary characters will foster meaningful discussions in your book club.

From the traditional and simple conservative community of Dayton, Tennessee, the courtroom becomes tumultuous as local and national personalities clash ideologies with a fervor that echoes into our modern culture wars. Grunwald escorts us through a rich narrative that challenges both her heroine and her audience to re-examine the convictions we hold dear.

The Evolution of Annabel Craig is not just another book to add to your must read books list... It's an invitation — to witness the transformation of a woman who undertakes the arduous odyssey of self-discovery and emerges enlightened, empowered, and entirely unexpected.

In Annabel Hayes, Grunwald has created a heroine who is at once familiar and fresh... A woman of her time, yes — but also a woman for our time. As we journey with Annabel through the trials that shape her pilgrimage to personal truth, we are compelled by her struggles and internal conflicts... while being inspired by her resilience. Ultimately, we see ourselves in her humanity...

The writing is vivid with characters who are richly drawn and compelling. Be prepared... Lisa Grunwald does not shy away from writing fully dimensional characters who embrace and bring an expansive diversity of perspectives to the central story. I loved the courage in her writing... And was grateful to have the opportunity to walk in the shoes of each character's point of view.

The Evolution of Annabel Craig is both sweeping and intimate in its' storytelling... For Grunwald weaves a masterful tapestry amongst women's fiction novels that tells of one woman's quest to reconcile her desires with her beliefs... A journey that resonates well beyond its historical setting... Easefully building a bridge between the past and the present... ✨😎✨

Pages: 301
Genre: Historical Fiction
Sub-Genre: Women's Fiction Novels
T.I.M.E. Jalapeno Rating:️ N/A
Time Period: 1925
Location: Dayton, TN (US)
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Book: The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐⭐️
Movie: Inherit The Wind

• The Struggle Between Tradition and Progress... One of the central themes in this book is the tension between traditional beliefs and modern ideas. As Annabel navigates her own personal growth, she also grapples with the changing views of her community during the Scopes Trial... Explore the universal challenge of balancing tradition with progress in our own lives.
• The Power of Personal Evolution... Through Annabel's journey, we see the transformative power of self-discovery and growth. As she questions her beliefs and learns to think for herself, we witness her becoming empowered and enlightened... Explore what it means to embrace change and continuous growth in our own lives... And what consequences may unfold if we do or do not.
• The Complexities of Faith... This book reviews the complexities of faith and how it can be tested by real-life events and conflicting beliefs. Annabel's journey forces her to confront her own religious convictions and grapple with what she truly believes in... Explore the relationships between spirituality, religion, science and our personal beliefs.

"God is big enough for your questions... " — The Evolution of Annabel Craig by Lisa Grunwald


All my book reviews can be seen at This Is My Everybody | Simple Living | Denise Wilbanks at

♡ Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC. I voluntarily chose to review it and the opinions contained within are my own.

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For the first three fourth’s of THE EVOLUTION OF ANNABEL CRAIG, I could not turn the pages fast enough! I became totally involved in Annabel’s story. Set in the town of Dayton, Tennassee, Annabel is left on her own after the death of both of her parents. I thought Grunwald did an excellent job of making this reader feel like I was “in the room” with Annabel as she finds a job at the Aqua Hotel, a love story with a young lawyer, George Craig, and Annabel’s worth as a woman with her friendship with reporter, Lottie and her next door neighbor.

I enjoyed both storylines about the trial and Annabel's growth as a photographer during the Scope’s trial. The polarizing of the community during the trial and after made me think about the polarizing in today’s political scene. I definitely saw this book as a book club possibility. I also liked the author’s references to Kate Chopin’s THE AWAKENING. I loved that small book about Edna’s journey. For me, the weak part of the story was after the trial. It seemed to drag. My thanks to Random House and NetGalley for an ARC of this book. The opinions in this review are my own.

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This book is a well written and very interesting historical fiction that takes place in Dayton Tennessee in 1925. We follow Annabel Craig who grew up in this small town, she was educated and attended church here. Her parents died when she was 16 leaving her an orphan. Annabel meets George Craig and the two are married. He is a lawyer so he looks down on her and her small town way of thinking. As we will see as the book continues. The crux of the book follows the historical trial of John Scopes and religion verses education. Dayton being a town that takes pride in having strong faith in God is opposed to having evolution taught in school.
We meet some interesting characters and we learn a lot about how journalism can be informative but also can ruin a person. Annabel meets a female journalist that comes to town to cover this trial and Annabel is fascinated by Lottie's ambition and drive. It was not common for women of that time to want to have careers outside of the home and she sees Lottie in a unfamiliar role. She soon sees that Lottie is only concerned about her career even at the expense of others.
Annabel is also introduced to many scientists that make their way to town to defend science and the need for it to be taught in schools. She is interested in what they have to say and while it does not negate what she firmly believes about God it does open her eyes to another way of viewing the world.
I really appreciated the way this historical trial was written with respect to both sides without pushing any agenda. This is something that could have been very biased toward one side or the other and I felt it was very accurate for the time it was taking place and also tells a lot about how we are where we are today. There are a lot of hot topics that could bring about a lot of feelings but it was written so well that it doesn't point fingers of right or wrong.
In the end, Annabel must make a very difficult decision in her life and by examining her life as a child and her life during this trial with her husband, she finds the courage to do difficult things that most likely wouldn't have been looked on favorably at that time. It shows how her thinking evolved and she came out stronger for making decisions for herself not based on what other's felt was right.

I am so glad to have received an e-arc of this book from NetGalley and the publisher. These are my opinions alone.

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Annabel Hayes grew up in a small conservative town in Tennessee. Her parents died when she was a teenager and she lived in a boarding house afterwards. She met, fell in love with and married George Craig, a local attorney. Someone is shot and a trial ensues. George is involved with the defense team. Both the defense and prosecution are lead by nationally known attorneys, creating quite a spectacle. A reporter comes to stay with Annabel and George while the trial is taking place, that is, until she writes a scathing article about George!
The female reporter encourages Annabel to demonstrate independence in her relationship with George. Keep in mind this is 1925 and the woman's role is very different than it is today.
This is an aspect of history that I was not aware of. It was an interesting story and I'm glad I read it. While we woman are not equal to men in many aspects, including pay, we have come a long way baby!

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The Evolution of Annabel Craig by Lisa Grunwald was very well written. I loved Annabel’s writing style.
Her descriptions were so vivid that I felt as though I were in the scenes with her characters.
This was a complete journey of self-discovery.

Thank You NetGalley and Random House for your generosity and gifting me a copy of this amazing eARC!

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This is my second book by Lisa Grunwald. I enjoyed both of them. The Evolution of Annabel Craig tells the story of how a young wife in Tennessee finds her voice during the Scopes Trial of 1925. I like reading about this era very much. This book tells the story of a lawsuit over teaching Darwin's theory of evolution in the classroom. As I always do through reading historical fiction, I learned a great deal. After finishing, I wonder what events in today's news will seem old hat and even silly by future generations.

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I enjoyed reading The Evolution of Annabel Craig by Lisa Grunwald. You will fall in love with all the characters. I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley and the publisher. This is my honest and personal review. Happy Reading!

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Historical fiction blends with self-actualization in this novel set in Tennessee of the 1920s. Annabel Craig is a young woman growing up in sleepy Dayton Tennessee. She is married to a young, upcoming lawyer George Craig. Their marriage is undergoing a series of upheavals when George becomes part of the panel of defendant lawyers in the famous Scopes Trial. It was a fascinating peek into this little bit of history and the general public reaction of the time. As the trial progresses, Annabel's path crosses with a firecracker journalist called Lottie who forces Annabel to question her own life and aspirations. The author has done a good job of portraying the concept of evolution not just as it relates to the Origin of Species but also to a young woman trying to find her own way to happiness and contentment. Overall an easy entertaining read.

Thank you Netgalley, Random House Publishing and Lisa Grunwald for the ARC.

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I really enjoyed this work of historical fiction that takes place in Dayton, TN, during the Scopes trial (1925), a test case over the right of the state to ban the teaching of evolution in schools. The main character is Annabel Craig, a young farm girl, orphaned at age 16 when her parents both died of the Spanish flu. At 20, she meets and marries a young lawyer whose career hits the big time when he is lucky enough to be part of the high school teacher John Scopes' defense team under Clarence Darrow.

Annabel is a strong character, pure of heart, but rather naive about the world at large. What she learns during the weeks of the trial, especially about her husband, sets in motion her own 'evolution.'

It's fascinating to see history come to life with all the famous participants, like Williams Jennings Bryan, Clarence Darrow and H. L. Mencken. But the fictional people, like Annabel and Lottie, the journalist from Chattanooga, TN, are equally enchanting. Loved listening to the arguments involving science and religion, both inside and outside the courtroom.

Many thanks to the author and publisher for providing me with an arc of this novel via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and the opinions expressed are my own.

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Dear Fellow Readers,

I am not a student of history. Dates and places for the most part do nothing for me. Perhaps that is my problem with historical fiction. To be honest and embarrass myself simultaneously, I was shocked when I learned that World War II ended in 1945. 1945 was not that long ago. Or more specifically, it wasn’t that long before I was born. When I see things about it, I always thought it was so long ago.

With that in mind, do you know what was happening in Dayton, Tennessee, in 1925? I would not have had any idea. Nor could I have told you much about it even if I knew the answer.

In her new book, The Evolution of Annabel Craig, Lisa Grunwald tells us the story of Annabel Hayes Craig. Annabel was raised by loving parents who died as part of the Spanish flu epidemic. At 16, Annabel was left on her own in her hometown of Dayton, Tennessee. She finished high school and started working. Then she met George Craig, a lawyer who had moved to Dayton from Knoxville. He was so loving and fun; she was completely in love. They married and things were fine for the first year. Yes, he might have had a few little quirks but doesn’t everyone? When they encountered some setbacks, the relationship hit an iceberg of problems.

It was 1925 and Annabell was in the back of the drugstore in Dayton having a soda and looking at the pictures she had developed when she overheard the big shot men of Dayton at one of the tables planning something. It seems there was a new law, the Butler Act, and they wanted there to be a court case to test the Act and they wanted it in Dayton to reap the publicity and any money that could be involved with the trial. They pulled in the new football coach, who had substituted teaching biology a few times. They told him they would pay any fines he received if he went on trial for teaching evolution. He agreed. So, John Scopes was arrested.

And that was how the Scopes Trial started.

The Butler Act prohibited teaching evolution in schools; only the Bible view was allowed. Dayton was a Bible town. For the most part people in town either went to the Baptist church or the Methodist-Episcopalian church. And they went every Sunday and knew their Bible. Wanting to go against the Butler Act was unacceptable.

The effect of this trial on the town and on Annabel’s life was significant. At the end of the trial, Annabel was only 23 years old, but she had learned more about her husband, town, and herself than most people in the town would ever learn.

Knowing just the absolute minimum about the Scopes Trial, I found it interesting. There was truly an evolution for Annabel. She was an interesting character, and I felt the author supplied historical information that was also interesting.

My only problem with the book was several instances where the author would hint about Annabel’s future life, but that future life was not in the book. I don’t know if she was paving the way for the next book, but I found it distracting.

But I did like the book. I would recommend it both for the story and the historical information. Annabel was a likable character. During her personal trials, I never wanted to yell at her for what she thought or did. She was a well-written character.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be published on April 16, 2024.

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A fascinating look at a pivotal moment in 1920s America, as seen through the eyes of a woman reevaluating her own place in the world. The main character is wonderful, and the details of the trial and the social upheavals it brings are riveting. Highly recommended.

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What a great read this is. Annabel, an orphan with no concept really of married life, is swept off her feet by George, a lawyer and at first is thrilled by their life, especially after he encourages to use her father's camera. But then George defends a man who murdered and things begin to go wrong, only to rebound when John Scopes (yes that Scopes) agrees to be charged with teaching evolution and George gets on the defense team. Grunwald does a terrific job with the characters from that historical trial- William Jennings Bryan, Clarence Darrow, HL Mencken- and adds a few, especially Lottie, a reporter who changes Annabel's life. This is as much about faith as it is about law and the conflicts the people in Dayton, Tennessee felt about the whole thing. And about the conflict between Annabel and George as they both begin to see one another differently. I knew the outcome of the Scopes trial but not, obviously, what would happen to Annabel, which made this a page turner for me. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. Terrific storytelling.

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The Evolution of Annabel Craig by Lisa Grunwald

Dayton, Tennesse. 1925. Science teacher John Scopes will go on trial for teaching Evolution in the classroom. Big wig attorneys Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan will lead the defense and prosecution. The little town of Dayton will be transformed, as will Annabel Craig, by the time the trial is over.

Obedient newlywed Annabel cooks and cleans for her husband. She truly loves him, but things don’t sit so well after George has a personal struggle. Enter journalist on assignment,Lottie Nelson, who hires Annabel to be her photographer. In the process, a new world opens to Annabel, and thus her evolution begins as well.

This story does a great job covering the Scopes trial and the growth of Annabel. It’s historical fiction at its best and I recommend it for any lover of this genre. Five stars from me for a slow start and race to the finish novel.

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Let's start with the cover: I love the energy that it brings, from the color to the umbrella and the stride of a woman on a mission. I fell in love with the cover and found a wonderful story inside. The writing is upbeat, fast moving and descriptive of the era. The book is about the Scopes trial which makes interesting reading but is also about Annabel. Annabel has had a rough road. Orphaned as a teenager she became responsible for her own life. Her beliefs came from the Fundamentalist Church which she had belonged to with her parents. She was a good Christian and let that lead her in life. Her faith shines through the pages. The Scopes trial is meant to fight the law that evolution may not be taught in schools. (Similar to what is currently going on in schools.) The small town of Dayton is stretched by all the visitors. The energy in this book! Amazing! I enjoyed Annabel and I was able to picture her, the town and the commotion while reading this book. It felt like I was living it. I obtained a complimentary digital ARC from NetGalley and the publisher. This review is in my own words.

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Annabel Craig was born and raised in the conservative town of Dayton, TN - after she lost her parents at 16, she lived in a boardinghouse until she meets her much more worldly, sophisticated and modern thinking husband George, who is a lawyer from Knoxville. Their young marriage is already strained when Dayton becomes the epicenter of the 1925 culture wars when the Scopes Monkey Trial is held there. Newspeople, lawyers and famous preachers descend on the town while evolution is debated amongst the citizens. Neighbors are set against each other as fundamental beliefs are questioned - can science and religion co-exist? As Annabel’s narrow world is broadened, her beliefs about herself and what she can accomplish also expands.

I thought the choice to have the Scopes Monkey Trial as a backdrop (and based on our present day culture wars, I thought very appropriate) was interesting and smart. I think the book just didn’t fully grab me for two reasons (1) the characters remained more like 2 dimensional representations of ideas rather than real people (the churchgoer, the sassy independent woman, etc.) and (2) the story just didn’t engage me as much as I wanted it to. In the end I think I wanted to enjoy the book more than I actually did. I will always pick up Grunwald's books because I enjoyed her last two and the Irresistible Henry House is an all-time favorite of mine, but this one fell a bit flat for me.

Thank you to NetGalley and and Random House for the ARC to review

3.5 stars

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THE EVOLUTION OF ANNABEL CRAIG by Lisa Grunwald is a fascinating and moving historical novel set in the small conservative town of Dayton, Tennessee. Annabel Hayes was born and raised in Dayton, and where she also lost both her parents as a young woman. Annabel is later swept off her feet by George Craig, an attorney who has just arrived from Knoxville and they soon marry. But the bliss of their marriage is cut short after a tragic loss, closely followed by George becoming involved in the infamous 1925 Scopes (Monkey) trial. John T. Scopes agrees to be arrested for teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution at the high school in defiance of the Butler Act that prohibited teaching the controversial subject matter. Soon the battle of religion vs. science rages in Dayton, causing a media frenzy and open conflicts between neighbors, family and friends. The spectacle of the trial comes to involve renowned politicians, attorneys and preachers on both sides. With George joining the defense team, Annabel is forced to question everything about her beliefs as well as her marriage. I love when a book allows me to learn about an event in history with which I was previously unfamiliar. The author blends fact and fiction perfectly to create an engrossing and timely story. I enjoyed this thought-provoking and compelling book and highly recommend it. Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read and review an early copy.

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I received a free copy from NetGalley. The historical fiction part of the scopes trial, set alongside the changing character of a southern women finding herself, both in a changing world, was a great way to make this an interesting and entertaining novel.

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