Amy Brill’s magnificent debut The Movement of Stars will be released from Riverhead Books on April 18. Brill’s story is my current read, and it truly is a gorgeous tale.
“For when I cannot observe, it is as if the great beauty and order and Truth of the Heavens does dissolve and I sense only my own wretchedly small place.” –Hannah Gardner Price
Her sand and shallows, salt and sawgrass, were as much a part of her as the tribal tattoos that marked the whalers from South Pacific islands far distant. Whenever she was off-island, Hannah felt diminished, invisible as stars veiled by the bright clamor of the city.
From the back of the ARC:
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 her, 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 is a writer and producer who has worked for PBS and MTV, and has been awarded fellowships by the Edward F. Albee Foundation, the Millay Colony, and the American Antiquarian Society, among others. This is her first novel. She lives in Brooklyn.