The Coral Thief, by Rebecca Stott
Selkirk's Island by Diana Souhami
There is an opera-like cast of characters; in fact, the whole book is rather like an opera. Puccini, undoubtedly, would have loved it. I found the fine research overwhelmed the plot, and it was that, rather than the story and characters, that kept me turning the pages. But it was definitely worth reading -- for the child who conquered dragons. While I found the mother very hard to fathom, the daughter is a marvellous creation.
I notice both books were published in London by Weidenfeld & Nicholson. They are to be heartily congratulated at finding such original talent.