Cover image for Waiting for Aphrodite : journeys into the time before bones
Waiting for Aphrodite : journeys into the time before bones
Hubbell, Sue.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 1999.
Physical Description:
x, 242 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
QL362 .H835 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In this wonderful new book Sue Hubbell takes us into the remarkable lives of the little-known creatures that really run the world: earthworms, corals, lightning bugs, pill bugs, millipedes, crickets, spiders, sea urchins, horseshoe crabs, and, most elusive and enigmatic of all, Aphrodite, the sea mouse. She also leads us on a journey through the mysteries of time -- geological, biological, and personal -- as she writes of the evolution of life on this planet and the evolution of her own life, from childhood next to a Michigan graveyard to beekeeping in the Ozarks and finally to a tower by the sea in Maine, where she waits and watches for Aphrodite.

Author Notes

Sue Hubbell was born Suzanne Gilbert in Kalamazoo, Michigan on January 28, 1935. She received a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Southern California in 1956 and a master's degree in library science from Drexel University in 1965. She worked as a librarian at Trenton State College and as a periodicals librarian at Brown University.

In 1972, she and her first husband moved to a farm in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri and took up beekeeping. To supplement the income from honey sales, she wrote freelance articles for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. After they divorced, she continued to run the large beekeeping operation. She also wrote several books including A Country Year: Living the Questions, A Book of Bees: And How to Keep Them, Far-Flung Hubbell: Essays from the American Road, and Waiting for Aphrodite: Journeys Into the Time Before Bones. She suffered from dementia and decided to stop eating and drinking on September 9, 2018 because she did not want to eventually be placed under indefinite institutional care. She died on October 13, 2018 at the age of 83.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Hubbell is a sunny naturalist who writes stimulating prose. Her newest book, a sibling to her eye-opening Broadsides from the Other Order: A Book of Bugs (1993), is a free-roaming survey of the busy lives of invertebrates: "small animals that creep and jump and slither and flutter." More than 95 percent of Earth's animals fall into this immense and spectacularly diverse category, and Hubbell deftly conveys her fascination with some of its more curious representatives. Most of the creatures she portrays are found in environs she has called home (the Ozarks and the coast of Maine), but she reports, too, from further afield, most strikingly Belize's coral reefs. As philosophical as she is descriptive, Hubbell introduces the modest but sensitive pill bug, gives her readers the creeps by chronicling massive invasions of millipedes, and muses on the essentiality of invertebrates, who are perpetually "tidying up the world." Sponges, earthworms, bees, spiders, horseshoe crabs, and Aphrodite, the elusive, wormlike sea mouse, all engage Hubbell's astute attention and fluid sense of wonder. (Reviewed April 1, 1999)0395837030Donna Seaman

Choice Review

Over the years this reviewer has had the pleasure of reading several fine nature writers and has read more than one of Sue Hubbell's books. She is among the very best in this difficult and demanding branch of literature. Among her other books are A Country Year (1986), Broadsides from the Other Orders (CH, Jan'94), A Book of Bees (1988), and Far-Flung Hubbell (1995), a collection of her travel writings from The New Yorker. She writes carefully and clearly. Her stories are filled with interesting anecdotes, and readers never fail to learn some new facts and viewpoints. In Waiting for Aphrodite, Hubbell has moved from Missouri to Maine, where she takes a special interest in the invertebrates in the neighborhood of her new home (and in other places as well). She discusses such topics as camel crickets, the inhabitants of a small tidal pool, pill-bugs and a parasitic worm, millipedes, sponges, earthworms, horseshoe crabs, bees, a visit to the Mayan rainforest, spiders, sea urchins. fireflies, and finally, Aphrodite. Nice black-and-white drawings by Liddy Hubbell. Chapter bibliographies. Good reading, enjoyable, and full of interesting information. Recommended to general readers and undergraduates through professionals. R. C. Graves; Bowling Green State University