Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Movement of Stars

When I requested Amy Brill's The Movement of Stars from Amazon Vine, I didn't think for a moment about March being Women's History Month. And there is a lot to this novel that doesn't really have to deal with women's rights, but that is certainly one part of this story.

Hannah is a twenty-four year old Quaker living on the island of Nantucket in 1845.  While she loves watching stars and studying astronomy, she is a female in a time when marriage and children are what is expected of her, not science and a career. 

When Isaac Martin, a black sailor arrives on her island and asks Hannah to teach him about the stars, Hannah is the subject of gossip from her community - the Quakers being a group that will excommunicate its members for questionable behavior. It doesn't help that Hannah finds herself attracted to Isaac. And while Hannah must battle the fact that she is a female interested in a field mostly restricted to men, Isaac is a black man restricted in what he does and who he can be friend with because of the color of his skin.

Hannah's dream is to discover a comet of her own, and she faces many challenges on that front. The first is the fact that her father is moving off the island and unless Hannah marries she won't have enough money to remain there while she searches the night sky for a comet.  

The setting of this novel provides an interesting look at Nantucket in 1845 when it was inhabited by Quakers and not a vacation destination.  Brill learned about a female astronomer prior to writing The Movement of Stars, which is where she found the inspiration for this novel. 

Although Hannah is a work of fiction, many women like Hannah helped create the opportunities girls and women have today by refusing to accept the conventions of their time.

1 comment:

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Sounds like a different type of story. On my list.