Author: Carrie Brown
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: 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?