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.
“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