The Movement of Stars: A Novel

The Movement of Stars: A Novel

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by Amy Brill
     
 

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“Gorgeous . . . Sings with insights about love, work and how we create our own families”—Oprah.com

“Amy Brill shines in her sparkling debut novel.”—Vanity Fair

 “Brill's rich detail and research are hugely impressive; it's easy to envision the scenes she sees.”—USA

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Overview

“Gorgeous . . . Sings with insights about love, work and how we create our own families”—Oprah.com

“Amy Brill shines in her sparkling debut novel.”—Vanity Fair

 “Brill's rich detail and research are hugely impressive; it's easy to envision the scenes she sees.”—USA Today

“Beautifully written and richly characterized.”—Kirkus (starred review)

“A terrifically poised and captivating debut."—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Amy Brill shines in her sparkling debut novel, The Movement of Stars, inspired by the work of a 19th-century female astronomer.” —Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair

“Brill's rich detail and research are hugely impressive; it's easy to envision the scenes she sees.”—USA Today

"A young woman has her eyes opened to her community’s limitations—and her own—in . . . Brill’s strong debut. . . .  Probing yet accessible, beautifully written and richly characterized: fine work from a writer to watch."—Kirkus (starred review)

"Vividly told and meticulously researched, Amy Brill's The Movement of Stars is one of the year's finest debut novels."—largehearted boy

"Brill has created a compelling and likable character in Hannah Price; it’s easy to root for her to find her comet and acknowledge her feelings for Isaac. Hannah’s search during a period of great discovery and advancement in astronomy, as well as her relationship with Isaac amid widespread abolitionist sentiments, adds up to a stirring historical drama."—Booklist

“A determined young woman, born into a Quaker community in 19th-century Nantucket, defies social norms on the path to becoming a 'lady astronomer' in Brill’s charming debut novel. . . . From the main streets of Nantucket to its dunes and shores, from a Harvard observatory to the cities of Europe, Hannah’s emotional and professional journey will please.”—Publishers Weekly

"In Hannah, Amy Brill has fashioned an extraordinary character and quiet hero—a woman who charts her own course, and who places knowledge and her own soul’s independence up with the highest, brightest stars. Nineteenth century Nantucket feels pressing and wholly vivid in this novel, and the love story at its heart blazes with real feeling and intensity. A terrifically poised and captivating debut."—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

"A spectacular debut. Amy Brill skillfully combines a forbidden love story, the struggle for women’s rights, and early scientific exploration of the heavens. I cheered for Hannah Price, our feisty heroine, as she unraveled the mystery of her own desires while burning a trail for other women to follow."—Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief

"A bittersweet story, movingly told. Amy Brill’s learned and informative novel captures the unique character of mid-nineteenth century Nantucket through the life of Hannah Gardner Price, a talented amateur astronomer. Brill’s uncluttered prose mirrors her heroine’s clear eye and Quaker reserve as Hannah explores both the expanding universe and her burgeoning emotions—amid increasingly binding circumstances. A delicately handled love story, and a convincing look at the island rituals of a New England whaling community."—Daphne Kalotay, author of Russian Winter

“Amy Brill shines in her sparkling debut novel, The Movement of Stars, inspired by the work of a 19th-century female astronomer.” —Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair

“Brill's rich detail and research are hugely impressive; it's easy to envision the scenes she sees.”—USA Today

"Read three sentences of Amy Brill's gorgeous The Movement of Stars and you're swiftly transported to the lantern-lit past of 1840s Quaker Nantucket... This book sings with insights about love, work and how we create our own families." —Oprah.com

“On Nantucket in the 1800s, Hannah Price struggles to obey her Quaker community while becoming an astronomer—her dream. Then exotic Isaac Martin asks to study with her, and she finds she has a lot to learn about love. Inspired by real-life astronomer Maria Mitchell, Brill's Hannah lights the way, like a comet, for women whose minds and hearts lead them beyond boundaries.”—People

"In a Nantucket whaling town, Hannah, a 24-year-old Quaker with a knack for navigation and an obsession with the night sky, teams up with an unintentionally controversial man who turns her world upside down.”—Marie Claire

“[An] unforgettable main character: Hannah Price has raised sleep deprivation to an art form in Amy Brill's strong debut novel, The Movement of Stars… Brill conveys both Hannah's love for her work and the cramped nature of the society that she outgrew without realizing it.”—The Christian Science Monitor

"An inspiring tale that is full of twists."—Bust

“Brill spins a luxurious romance about stargazing and star-crossing. Hannah Gardner Price, the heroine, driven to succeed in her field and steadfast in her right to do so, eventually becomes embroiled in an interracial romance with Isaac, an Azorean whaler she takes on as a student. Though the setting and subject may brand this a historical novel, the conflicts ring sharply contemporary—career vs. family, racial tension vs. love.”—The Village Voice

“Author Amy Brill combines several themes—women's rights, closed faith communities, life in an isolated place, practicing one's spirituality, pursuing one's dreams—and weaves them into a well-researched, well-written and entirely believable story that readers will enjoy because the themes are timeless.”—Bookreporter.com

“Brill’s debut raises thought-provoking questions on the limitations to achievement societies impose based on race, gender, or divergent beliefs. For readers of historical fiction, particularly those with an interest in science, who savor the unfolding of a character’s emotional and intellectual development.”—Library Journal

"A young woman has her eyes opened to her community’s limitations—and her own—in . . . Brill’s strong debut. . . .  Probing yet accessible, beautifully written and richly characterized: fine work from a writer to watch."—Kirkus (starred review)

"Vividly told and meticulously researched, Amy Brill's The Movement of Stars is one of the year's finest debut novels."—largehearted boy

"Brill has created a compelling and likable character in Hannah Price; it’s easy to root for her to find her comet and acknowledge her feelings for Isaac. Hannah’s search during a period of great discovery and advancement in astronomy, as well as her relationship with Isaac amid widespread abolitionist sentiments, adds up to a stirring historical drama."—Booklist

“A determined young woman, born into a Quaker community in 19th-century Nantucket, defies social norms on the path to becoming a 'lady astronomer' in Brill’s charming debut novel. . . . From the main streets of Nantucket to its dunes and shores, from a Harvard observatory to the cities of Europe, Hannah’s emotional and professional journey will please.”—Publishers Weekly

"In Hannah, Amy Brill has fashioned an extraordinary character and quiet hero—a woman who charts her own course, and who places knowledge and her own soul’s independence up with the highest, brightest stars. Nineteenth century Nantucket feels pressing and wholly vivid in this novel, and the love story at its heart blazes with real feeling and intensity. A terrifically poised and captivating debut."—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

"A spectacular debut. Amy Brill skillfully combines a forbidden love story, the struggle for women’s rights, and early scientific exploration of the heavens. I cheered for Hannah Price, our feisty heroine, as she unraveled the mystery of her own desires while burning a trail for other women to follow."—Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief

"A bittersweet story, movingly told. Amy Brill’s learned and informative novel captures the unique character of mid-nineteenth century Nantucket through the life of Hannah Gardner Price, a talented amateur astronomer. Brill’s uncluttered prose mirrors her heroine’s clear eye and Quaker reserve as Hannah explores both the expanding universe and her burgeoning emotions—amid increasingly binding circumstances. A delicately handled love story, and a convincing look at the island rituals of a New England whaling community."—Daphne Kalotay, author of Russian Winter

Publishers Weekly
A determined young woman, born into a Quaker community in 19th-century Nantucket, defies social norms on the path to becoming a “lady astronomer” in Brill’s charming debut novel. Very loosely based on historical “girl” astronomer Maria Mitchell, Hannah Price spends her days going to Quaker meetings and tending to books at her town’s library, but nights she spends with her eyes on celestial bodies or crouched over mathematical calculations, dreaming of discovering a comet all her own. A serious girl obsessed with the pursuit of knowledge, Hannah fears the passionate restlessness of her twin brother Edward, even as she rejects the strictures of marrying to attain stability. Hannah’s sober routine is interrupted when she takes on a new pupil, Isaac Martin, a sailor from the Azores, whose race shakes up Hannah’s standing in the town. Martin’s ideas and instinctive personal connection with his new teacher alter her attitude toward love and faith. From the main streets of Nantucket to its dunes and shores, from a Harvard observatory to the cities of Europe, Hannah’s emotional and professional journey will please fans of feminist-minded and romantic historical fiction. Agent: Julie Barer, Barer Literary. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
A young woman has her eyes opened to her community's limitations--and her own--in television writer/producer Brill's strong debut. In the small, tightly controlled Quaker settlement on Nantucket in 1845, 24-year-old Hannah Price's principal duties are to behave and dress with sober decorum and to find a husband. Though her father has encouraged her passion for astronomy since she was a girl, he's lost interest in celestial observations since her beloved twin brother, Edward, shipped out on a whaling vessel nearly three years earlier. Hannah dreams of sighting a new comet and winning the King of Denmark's prize, but when her long-widowed father announces that he plans to remarry and relocate to Philadelphia, assuming as a matter of course that Hannah must accompany him, she sees painfully and angrily how little control she has over her own life. She is further unsettled by Isaac Martin, a sailor from the Azores who brings his ship's chronometer to be recalibrated and asks Hannah to teach him how to use it. Quakers are against slavery but hardly free of racial prejudice; Hannah's sessions with Isaac scandalize the meeting--and though her critics are narrow-minded, they're not wrong that she is uneasily attracted to a man she has been raised to believe is beneath her. Hannah is by no means a saintly heroine; as her returned brother's new wife points out, she is quick to judge and slow to see anything that can't be observed through astronomical instruments. In spare yet luminous prose, Brill shows Hannah achieving emotional and spiritual growth to match her intellectual gifts: Gaining her heart's desire to be recognized as a scientist, she also finds the courage to acknowledge her feelings for Isaac. Brill's realistic, poignant conclusion gives her appealing protagonist almost equal portions of happiness and sorrow, just as she has done equal justice throughout to the passions of the mind and the flesh. Probing yet accessible, beautifully written and richly characterized: fine work from a writer to watch.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594632372
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/06/2014
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
448
Sales rank:
535,095
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“Amy Brill shines in her sparkling debut novel, The Movement of Stars, inspired by the work of a 19th-century female astronomer.” —Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair

“Brill's rich detail and research are hugely impressive; it's easy to envision the scenes she sees.”—USA Today

"Read three sentences of Amy Brill's gorgeous The Movement of Stars and you're swiftly transported to the lantern-lit past of 1840s Quaker Nantucket... This book sings with insights about love, work and how we create our own families." —Oprah.com

“On Nantucket in the 1800s, Hannah Price struggles to obey her Quaker community while becoming an astronomer—her dream. Then exotic Isaac Martin asks to study with her, and she finds she has a lot to learn about love. Inspired by real-life astronomer Maria Mitchell, Brill's Hannah lights the way, like a comet, for women whose minds and hearts lead them beyond boundaries.”—People

"In a Nantucket whaling town, Hannah, a 24-year-old Quaker with a knack for navigation and an obsession with the night sky, teams up with an unintentionally controversial man who turns her world upside down.”—Marie Claire

“[An] unforgettable main character: Hannah Price has raised sleep deprivation to an art form in Amy Brill's strong debut novel, The Movement of Stars… Brill conveys both Hannah's love for her work and the cramped nature of the society that she outgrew without realizing it.”—The Christian Science Monitor

"An inspiring tale that is full of twists."—Bust

“Brill spins a luxurious romance about stargazing and star-crossing. Hannah Gardner Price, the heroine, driven to succeed in her field and steadfast in her right to do so, eventually becomes embroiled in an interracial romance with Isaac, an Azorean whaler she takes on as a student. Though the setting and subject may brand this a historical novel, the conflicts ring sharply contemporary—career vs. family, racial tension vs. love.”—The Village Voice

“Author Amy Brill combines several themes—women's rights, closed faith communities, life in an isolated place, practicing one's spirituality, pursuing one's dreams—and weaves them into a well-researched, well-written and entirely believable story that readers will enjoy because the themes are timeless.”—Bookreporter.com

“Brill’s debut raises thought-provoking questions on the limitations to achievement societies impose based on race, gender, or divergent beliefs. For readers of historical fiction, particularly those with an interest in science, who savor the unfolding of a character’s emotional and intellectual development.”—Library Journal

"A young woman has her eyes opened to her community’s limitations—and her own—in . . . Brill’s strong debut. . . .  Probing yet accessible, beautifully written and richly characterized: fine work from a writer to watch."—Kirkus (starred review)

"Vividly told and meticulously researched, Amy Brill's The Movement of Stars is one of the year's finest debut novels."—largehearted boy

"Brill has created a compelling and likable character in Hannah Price; it’s easy to root for her to find her comet and acknowledge her feelings for Isaac. Hannah’s search during a period of great discovery and advancement in astronomy, as well as her relationship with Isaac amid widespread abolitionist sentiments, adds up to a stirring historical drama."—Booklist

“A determined young woman, born into a Quaker community in 19th-century Nantucket, defies social norms on the path to becoming a 'lady astronomer' in Brill’s charming debut novel. . . . From the main streets of Nantucket to its dunes and shores, from a Harvard observatory to the cities of Europe, Hannah’s emotional and professional journey will please.”—Publishers Weekly

"In Hannah, Amy Brill has fashioned an extraordinary character and quiet hero—a woman who charts her own course, and who places knowledge and her own soul’s independence up with the highest, brightest stars. Nineteenth century Nantucket feels pressing and wholly vivid in this novel, and the love story at its heart blazes with real feeling and intensity. A terrifically poised and captivating debut."—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

"A spectacular debut. Amy Brill skillfully combines a forbidden love story, the struggle for women’s rights, and early scientific exploration of the heavens. I cheered for Hannah Price, our feisty heroine, as she unraveled the mystery of her own desires while burning a trail for other women to follow."—Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief

"A bittersweet story, movingly told. Amy Brill’s learned and informative novel captures the unique character of mid-nineteenth century Nantucket through the life of Hannah Gardner Price, a talented amateur astronomer. Brill’s uncluttered prose mirrors her heroine’s clear eye and Quaker reserve as Hannah explores both the expanding universe and her burgeoning emotions—amid increasingly binding circumstances. A delicately handled love story, and a convincing look at the island rituals of a New England whaling community."—Daphne Kalotay, author of Russian Winter

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Meet the Author

Amy Brill is a writer and producer who has worked for PBS and MTV, and has been awarded fellowships by the Edward F. Albee Foundation, the Millay Colony, and the American Antiquarian Society, among others. This is her first novel. She lives in Brooklyn.

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The Movement of Stars: A Novel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Extremely well reseaeched and engrossing. Great for anyone who loves historical fiction, asronomy, womens fiction or the era or location! My favorite book of the year
Anonymous More than 1 year ago