We begin in Nantucket in April 1845. We’re introduced to Hannah’s love of the night sky and the mysteries it reveals or obscures. Hannah is more enamoured of the night than she is of the daytime.
Her father has taken a bank job in Philadelphia so now Hannah is the only family member watching the night sky and calibrating the chronometers used on the whaling vessels. This isn’t her only job as she also keeps the ledgers, pays the boys who manage the small farm they own and is a junior librarian at the Nantucket Atheneum.
Her twin brother has gone off to prove himself so that he can marry into one of the wealthy founding families and so when Isaac Martin walks in with a chronometer that needs repairing, Hannah is lonely. Not only that, she doesn’t fit in with the Quaker community that structures her life.
We follow Hannah during this historical period as she fights against expectations to tread her own path.
The way of life of the early Quakers fascinated me in this story. The language, the rules of everyday living and dress code gives us a picture of a very different time. Hannah’s father has to apply for a Certificate of Removal to move away from Nantucket which is totally opposite to UK parishes of the same time where residents were removed if they became a drain on finances!
I also enjoyed the astronomy. I could just imagine Hannah’s surprise when they visited family friends in Cambridge and George took her to the observatory. The times we spend with Hannah on the platform with her vintage telescope and when she is teaching Isaac feel very authentic. The author has obviously researched this very thoroughly.
There is such innocence with Hannah’s attraction to Isaac. She learns things about herself through spending time with him. There are some poignant moments when they are together and a connection on a deeper level than the physical.
The romance and family are integral parts of the story but on the whole, The Movement of Stars for me, is about one woman blazing a trail in a male dominated world in a time when rules were restricting. It’s about communities and how appearances on the surface may not really show the truth! Hannah is a heroine who may give you inspiration to follow your own ambitions …
I would like to thank the publisher for providing a proof copy in exchange for an honest review.