Review: The Stargazer’s Sister

January 20, 2016 Uncategorized 27 ★★★★★

Review: The Stargazer’s SisterTitle: The Stargazer's Sister
Author: Carrie Brown
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

Summary:Β This was fantastic historical fiction, with a fascinating time period and main character, both brought vividly to life.

Although you may recognize the name of William Herschel (astronomer, first to observe Uranus, designer of a new telescope), you may not know how involved his sister, Caroline, was in his work. Rescued from a life of drudgery with her uncaring mother, Lina was deeply grateful to come live with her brother. She embraced the knowledge he was able to share, becoming not only a capable assistant, but an impressive astronomer in her own right. Her abilities and independence gave her great joy, but, given her brother’s obsession with his work, they sometimes came at a high cost to her health and happiness as well.

This is a book I looked at, but did not add to my list of Futuristic Friday books I was looking forward to. I’ll be the first to say that was a mistake and I’m so glad I picked it up anyway! The author, Carrie Brown, does an incredible job of bringing to life the time period in which Lina lived. The little details she shared about the daily lives and hardships of the late 1700s gave me a new perspective that I loved. She also made me feel for Lina – her love for her brother and for astronomy; her fear of being trapped with her mother or discarded by her brother when he married; and the awe, curiosity, and determination that drove her.

I really don’t know how to explain how much I loved this book. Lina was such an incredible, intelligent, impressive woman. It was amazing reading about how she defied the constraints of her time to achieve so much. The best part of this for me is that it’s grounded in truth. The author explains at the end that much of her writing is based on journal entries and letters written by Lina and her brother. She is also very clear about the parts of the novel that are tweaks or addendums to what the historical record shows. For anyone who enjoys learning about the role women played in history or historical fiction in general, I highly recommend picking this up.

Have you read any historical fiction or nonfiction about women that you’d recommend?

27 Responses to “Review: The Stargazer’s Sister”

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks Kim! Lately I’ve been listening to audiobooks rather than podcasts, but this sounds like one I should check out when I get a chance.

  1. Resh Susan

    Great review. If you have not already read it, The Historian is a nice book. Not exactly about women, but the main character/narrator is a woman

  2. Tara @ Running 'N' Reading

    GAH! Your description really has me intrigued, Katie! I recently read another review on this one and now I think I’m going to have to add it to my list; I’m interested in Lina’s life, through the lens of the time during which she lived. What a treat! Thank you for sharing this one!

    • DoingDewey

      Haha, and I’m not even sorry for growing your to-read list this one is so good πŸ˜› Seriously though, it’s worth adding πŸ™‚

  3. Naomi

    This sounds wonderful! More history, science, and women! I also love that the author is clear about what parts are fact and which are fiction. It drives me crazy not to know. I think I’ve mentioned this one before, but I will again – A Measure of Light by Beth Powning is about Mary Dyer. It’s religious history as opposed to science, but I found it fascinating and educational. The author also very clearly states what is fact and what is fiction.

    • DoingDewey

      Those are definitely some of my favorite topics πŸ™‚ And I agree, I hate not knowing what’s fact and what’s fiction! I’ll definitely check out A Measure of Light, if I haven’t already. Thanks for the recommendation Naomi!

  4. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

    As I commented elsewhere, when I read about the Herschels in The Age of Wonder (a fantastic nonfiction book that I highly recommend), I wondered why no one had ever written a novel about them. I’m so glad this one turned out to be so wonderful and especially that it brings Caroline to life. I can’t wait to read it.

  5. Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy

    I was only aware of William Herschel through the reboot of the show Cosmos – fascinating to know he had a sister who helped him so much. This does sound like a fantastic and inspiring read – I will add it to my TBR!

  6. TJ@ MyBookStrings

    I loved this book as well. I thought Lina really came to life. I have The Movement of Stars on my shelf, which is based on Maria Mitchell, a female astronomer from Nantucket.

  7. Shay

    Definitely marking this one as to-read. I’m especially intrigued by its strong basis in primary documents!

  8. Aylee

    Nope, never heard of her, I’m sad to say! It’s so great that there’s books out there like this that can give us a little viewpoint into someone we’ve never heard of before and why they were so special.

    In the same vein as this one, Remarkable Creatures about Mary Anning – the famous fossil hunter from the 1800s – is really well done.

    • DoingDewey

      I’d never heard of her either and I do love books like this. I’ll definitely be checking out Remarkable Creatures. Thanks for the recommendation!

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