Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Book Review: The Movement of Stars

The Movement of StarsAuthor: Amy Brill
Publication Date: April 18, 2013
Publisher: Riverhead Books

A love story set in 1845 Nantucket, between a female astronomer and the unusual man who understands her dreams.

It is 1845, and Hannah Gardner Price has lived all twenty-four years of her life according to the principles of the Nantucket Quaker community in which she was raised, where simplicity and restraint are valued above all, and a woman’s path is expected to lead to marriage and motherhood. But up on the rooftop each night, Hannah pursues a very different—and elusive—goal: discovering a comet and thereby winning a gold medal awarded by the King of Denmark, something unheard of for a woman.

And then she meets Isaac Martin, a young, dark-skinned whaler from the Azores who, like herself, has ambitions beyond his expected station in life. Drawn to his intellectual curiosity and honest manner, Hannah agrees to take Isaac on as a student. but when their shared interest in the stars develops into something deeper, Hannah’s standing in the community begins to unravel, challenging her most fundamental beliefs about work and love, and ultimately changing the course of her life forever.

Inspired by the work of Maria Mitchell, the first professional female astronomer in America, The Movement of Stars is a richly drawn portrait of desire and ambition in the face of adversity.

Anyone who wants to improve should have the chance.

She shared his reverence for pure mathematics, but to her mind the quest for astronomical knowledge unfolding across the nation was the opposite of frivolous. She’d give anything to be a part of it.

Grease stains shaped like continents mapped his hands and forearms, and he was sweaty and breathless, as if he’d run all the way.

His answer didn’t matter: the truth was as clear as a harvest moon.

“He’s told me on several occasions that he expects thee to surpass him, and that he welcomes the occurrence. There aren’t many men who’ll share that sentiment.”

The pursuit of knowledge is the highest calling.

I am always a fan of debut authors and their novels. Amy Brill does not disappoint in her debut called The Movement of Stars. In this story readers meet their heroine, Hannah Gardner Price, who is fascinated with stars and stays awake countless hours at night just to try and discover comets, nebula, and just to admire the amazing galaxy that lies outside of the sphere of Earth. Hannah is a young woman growing up in 1840’s Nantucket in a community that is centered on its Quaker values. Hannah’s love of astronomy is not typical for any woman whatsoever in this time period. Hannah’s love of astronomy and determination to be recognized for the intelligent woman that she is drives the entire plot and makes for a dynamic heroine that is sure to please any reader.

Hannah, in the story, is twenty-four and has not yet married and really has no desire to. Within the community she lives in, this is surely frowned upon. Especially because she is trying to make a name for herself in what is seen as a man’s profession and world. Hannah takes on a student, who is eager to learn more about astronomy and the instruments it calls for, by the name of Isaac Martin. Isaac is a dark-skinned sailor who is looking to better himself and his education so that he may be of great use in her chosen profession. Hannah does not expect to develop feelings for this humble man, and when she does her Quaker community is the first to disapprove.

This book touches on so many important topics. Hannah’s desire to be considered an equal amongst men is probably the one that stood out to me the most. Hannah is definitely a character worth recognition. She goes through so many changes in the book, and most importantly she learns who she really is and what she really stands for. I enjoyed reading about the cultural side of life in Nantucket, and I enjoyed the history that this book shared. Hannah Price’s story is based on the life of Maria Mitchell and all of her scientific discoveries. The small Nantucket town was also fascinating and I was glad for the time I got to spend there. I do not read about Nantucket much in books, but I truly feel that more authors should consider it for their setting. It is a beautiful place!

Please go and check out Amy Brill’s website. Click here. You will be fascinated when you read about her experiences in writing this book, and you can learn a little more about the history surrounding it as well.

***A copy of this beautiful book was provided to me by the publishers at Riverhead in exchange for an honest review***

1 comment:

  1. Oooooh ... as a historical fiction nut AND a star geek, this sounds absolutely AMAZING. Added to my To Read list for sure!