The Movement of Stars

Written by Amy Brill
Review by Jo Ann Butler

At the age of 24, Hannah Gardner Price is not conforming to the expectations of her Nantucket community. Women in 1845, especially Quakers, are raised to one purpose – to be good wives and mothers. Hannah aspires to be neither. She has been trained in astronomy by her father, and her heart’s desire is to discover an unknown comet. Perhaps Hannah will find a man who matches her in interests, but until then she is content to live at her widowed father’s home and study stars in the velvety dark Nantucket nights. However, this will soon be impossible. Her father intends to marry and move to his wife’s home in Philadelphia, where observation will be difficult, and Hannah cannot afford to live alone.

Hannah has taken on a student to instruct in navigation. A dark-skinned ship-hand from the Azores, Isaac Martin is an apt student, and their attraction is immediate. But Hannah’s Quaker brethren are scandalized, and she knows that she will be shunned if she defies them. Then Hannah sees a comet…

Author Amy Brill has launched her novel-writing debut with a rocket. She based The Movement of Stars on America’s first professional astronomer, Maria Mitchell. Brill paints a powerfully visualized scene, whether Hannah is on the widow’s walk on a cold winter night, facing resolute Quaker brethren, or confronting her own woman’s heart and her glass ceiling. I highly recommend The Movement of Stars to everyone.