I love stories that combine fact and fiction, so I bought this anticipating something akin to Tracey Chevalier's "Remarkable Creatures" where she recounts the life of of a young girl ahead of her time in science. This book fell flat. Other than the science, which was hard to follow, her characters left me wanting more. There was no passion between Issac and Hannah Price. Even the religious aspect of the book left me feeling it was glossed over. When women of this time period dared to test their boundaries, the consequences could be dire. Hannah flouted convention with her intellect as well as her heart, yet I did not get engaged with her struggle. I think Brill reached for the stars, but couldn't quite grasp them.
With the exception of a little bit of drag in the middle as the protagonist runs in circles a bit (which certainly does get across the point of her hemmed-in life), I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I think the author has done a remarkable job constructing a novel after careful research of the real life and times of the woman who inspired the story. I appreciated her note at the end in which she specifically details what parts were based on fact and which were from her imagination. In some ways a novel about the stars, in some ways a touching romance, in some ways a cautionary tale about troubled times in the lives of women and the Quaker community, it is a rich and rewarding read.
I don't read for pleasure often, but I picked this book up and, after a few chapters, got sucked in. I was captivated by the remarkably creative writing, and found myself rereading sections a few times to make savor the imagery. I also found the story and characters compelling, and I repeatedly saw my own love story, my own struggles with my family and religion, and my own intellectual endeavors within the characters. I have little in common with the characters or story, and yet the writing allowed me to connect to the moments as if they were my own. I loved the interesting period in which the novel is set. So much going on at that point in time--racial, gender, religion and nationality struggles that reformed our country! I learned a lot about history reading this, as the author did a ton of research to make it as accurate as possible--basing the story on Maria Mitchel, but adding her own flair in plot and adventures. I also finished it feeling inspired by the women who paved the way before me so that we could all have equal opportunities to learn and teach and expand knowledge in the world. I've purchased a few copies for family and for female coworkers. I am a scientist, and I know they will love this story of an impressive scientist/activist navigating her way through womanhood, society, love, and self-discovery!
Amy Brill's The Movement of Stars is a must-read for any lover of historical fiction or literature infused with scientific discovery.
While many historical novels get bogged down in demonstrating the depth of their research (rather than telling their story well), Brill paints Hannah's Nantucket with deft, specific strokes that evoke rather than explicate. The description of the island's architecture is one example of Brill's attention to clearly researched detail that enhances the novel, and the portrayal of Hannah's astronomical research and discovery sparks with a well-tuned blend of innovation and the necessities of its period.
Brill doesn't shy away from the difficult realities of colonial Nantucket, either, and it's her—and Hannah's—willingness to confront and investigate complex questions of race, class, and religion, as well as the rights and opportunities afforded to women, that makes this novel so satisfying to read. There are no easy fixes in the novel, and there are no re-trodden descriptors in Brill's sentences.
The Movement of Stars is an ideal melding of historical fact and literary fiction with characters who move through a gracefully written world.
I had never considered that Friends (aka Quakers) lived anywhere but Pennsylvania. Brill reveals quite naturally how even a group so often perceived as 'liberal' circumscribed the life of its adherents, particularly women. Based on the life of a real-life 'girl astronomer,' seeking to identify a previously un-named 'wanderer,' the title led me to recall, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings." We must make our own destiny, which is exactly what Hannah Price and discovers that the world does not end.
I really like historical fiction, a good story with some learning along the way, what is not to like. I had just finished Chevalier's REMARKABLE CREATURES a month or so ago and wanted something similar because I liked that one so much. This was disappointing and slow moving along the way, I really did not buy into the made up story of this Quaker Lady. I was happy to learn of the stars and telescopes and especially Maria Mitchell, but the story was not to my liking and moved too slowly
I found the book slow going until about mid way through when the characters begin to come to life. There is a lot of writing of the astronomy so those who understand it more than the average person may enjoy that part, but I found it a bit too tedious. Not knowing much about Quakers, I was expecting more about their life style, but it is also slow to develop. I did like reading that the character of Hannah is based on a real person who actually was a well known female astronomer. We chose this book for bookclub, but almost no one finished our discussion in time.
This is a true historical fiction, based upon the first American female Astronomer. The author created a wonderful story about the unknown facts of her life. But the description of the time and place in American History is all true. It was a slow read, because of the scientific narrative. I gave it a four star, because the story did not actually end, and I would have liked to have learned more.