Wednesday, December 09, 2015

The Stargazer's Sister: A Book Review

Caroline Herschel was the sister of a noted astronomer, and how appropriate is the prose in THE STARGAZER'S SISTER, floating just above the page, almost lighter than air. The story of the woman behind the William Heschel is told with a delicate touch that fits the Georgian era in which the main character lived.

You'll find no end of descriptions of stars, sky, meadow, tree, etc. etc., but it feels right. A woman who did a bit of stargazing herself should be shown to be aware of what is around her, exhibiting powers of perception.

Author Carrie Brown imagines a life and creates a believable world inhabited by poverty, stress and abuse. Caroline, or Lina as she is called, has little to look forward to in her miserable life, with a face scarred by smallpox scars. If not for her brilliant brother acting as her tutor, her future would be bleak indeed.

Thanks to her brother, however, she has a chance to shine like the stars (couldn't resist, sorry) when he moves to England to make his way. In need of a housekeeper he takes in Lina, who shapes her life around William's needs, and in the end she sacrifices the best years of her life to help him become a famed scientist. Then he gets married and she's cast aside like an old rag.

The story hints at feminism in its earlier form, with an unattached female gaining a little acclaim, but getting there requires slogging through the middle of the book which drags a bit. The ending tails off, as did Caroline Herschel's life, but overall the character is presented well and the book is entertaining. If you are looking for the more obscure sort of historical figure, you will find this novel an enjoyable read.

And thanks to Penguin for providing a copy through First To Read.

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