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The Movement of Stars

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  1,978 ratings  ·  401 reviews
A love story set in 1845 Nantucket, between a female astronomer and the unusual man who understands her dreams.

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
Hardcover, 380 pages
Published April 18th 2013 by Riverhead Books (first published 2013)
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Average rating 3.54  · 
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 ·  1,978 ratings  ·  401 reviews

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May 18, 2013 rated it did not like it
Ugh, this book.

Ok, so maybe this isn't entirely fair. I always feel sorry for the books that come after 5-star, life changing, thought-provoking, emotion-squeezing books. And I just read two of them in a row. But seriously, this book.

Alright, so I'd never heard of Maria Mitchell before I read this. But now that I've checked out her Wikipedia article, I have to wonder....why not just write a book about Maria Mitchell? Why make up this person (Hannah Price), who I have have no attachment to and co
Hannah Gardner Price is a fictional character inspired by the work of Maria Mitchell, the first professional female astronomer in America. In 1847, Maria discovered a comet, which earned her a medal from the King of Denmark.

The story starts in 1845, Nantucket. “Hannah’s intention is: to find a comet that no one on Earth had yet seen. It was more than she could reasonably hope for, with no proper observatory, no hope of a higher education, and no instruments but the dear, battered, three foot-lon
Helen Dunn
Dec 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: four-stars, booktopia
I picked this up on Friday night and finished it on Monday all while dealing with an all day conference, a six hour drive, working and being seriously distracted by the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

I identified with the bookish heroine and thank God that I was born into an age when being a woman doesn't hold me back from intellectual pursuits.

I don't read a lot of romance novels anymore but I deep down I do enjoy a good love story. This one is bittersweet and has some lovely, emotionally ch
Oct 01, 2012 rated it did not like it
Combining elements of history, science, astronomy, and romance; Amy Brill attempts to bring to life the role of female astronomers in 1845 based on real-life Maria Mitchell (America’s first female astronomer) in “The Movement of Stars”.

The initial description concerning “The Movement of Stars” is “sluggish”. Although Brill has clearly conducted ample research regarding the history of the era, science, and astronomy; the story does not come alive. Hannah, the main character, feels far away and d
Patricia Williams
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a really good story about the first professional woman astronomer. It is based on truth which I love historical fiction. It's a story about a very strong woman who helps other women. Very uplifting. There's a relationship story there about a woman who was a Quaker and was banished from the church because of her friendship with a black man when she was white and how she learned to stand up for herself and gain back the respect of the people in her community without going back into the ch ...more
Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Movement of the Stars by Amy Brill called to me immediately! As soon as I saw the cover, I knew the story would be connected to Maria Mitchell, the first professional female astronomer in United States. I had learned about her on my visit to Nantucket Island. But instead of a biography, this is historical fiction inspired by her. Amy Brill has researched her subject well. In the back of the book, she defines all the differences between Maria Mitchell and Hannah Gardner Price.

Hannah Gardner
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Of all the books that traveled home from Booktopia, VT 2013 with me, The Movement of Stars was the book I was most excited to read. It did not disappoint. Brill's protagonist, Hannah Gardner Price, is inspired by Maria Mitchell, an American astronomer and first woman to discover a comet. Through Hannah's character Brill explores themes of isolation and identity. There are few things that make this novel especially memorable to me:
1) setting - The Movement of Stars is set on Nantucket in the 184
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This first novel by Amy Brill was inspired by a trip she made to Nantucket, and a brief mention of a teenaged female astronomer from the first half of the 19th century. For me, this had some elements that I'd have a hard time not enjoying - the setting of Nantucket, an early feminist out of sorts in a time period that expects women to marry and to abandon intellectual pursuits, and a character who works in a library. Set during a very real period in Quaker history where plain speech and dress wa ...more
May 04, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I got this book as part of First Reads. I want to say that the book is very well researched when it comes to the history of the time period, and the inspiration for the main character. Outside of that, however, it was not so great. The characters seemed really flat, despite the narrator telling me a great deal about each character - I wanted to see, not be told. Hannah, the main character, is largely unlikable, in my opinion, and I didn't care what happened to her - good or bad. Also, the relati ...more
Jerri Brissette
Jul 15, 2014 rated it liked it
I liked this book, some of the story line was very good and others a bit boring. This book really deserves like three and one-half stars, but not really four.
Janet Hutchinson
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written, and based on the true story of a female astronomer in the 19th century. Her passion and desire lay in the discovery of a new comet, and her ability to adhere to both the behaviour expected of a woman, and as a Quaker, rides up against both her studies and observations, and the pupil that comes, requesting to study with her.
Mar 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dtb, fiction, arc
The year is 1845, and 24-year-old Hannah Price spends her nights watching the stars from the widow's walk of her modest Nantucket home. She has spent her life in the company of her father and her twin brother, fixing chronometers and scanning the heavens; what she dreams of is to discover a comet and thus win the King of Denmark's Prize. But in this mid-nineteenth century Quaker community, there is no room for a woman to pursue her scientific dreams. When her brother and father leave the island, ...more
Apr 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed The Movement of Stars, but I really wanted to like it better than I did. The Movement of Stars is historical fiction based on the life of the very real Maria Mitchell, in the book she becomes a fictional character named Hannah, (their differences and similarities are discussed by the author at the end of the story). Hannah's life on Nantucket is centered most on her desire to learn and her passion for astronomy, and Brill does an excellent job of making the reader really understand, an ...more
Mar 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Set in 1845, Hannah Gardner Price is finding herself constrained by a time in history that doesn't value women's contribution to the workforce or science. She has been taught about astronomy by her father and her goal is to one day discover a comet. She finds herself in a dead end situation when her father decides to remarry and leave their Nantucket home. Of course, Hannah, a mere woman, cannot take care of herself and would only be able to stay on the island (to discover her comet) if she had ...more
May 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
I can't remember the last time I finished a book and wanted to roll my eyes.
Not a single character was compelling. From the bland Nathaniel, Edward, and Mary to the ever-distant, unexciting Hannah, it's a parade of quick introductions with no real development.

It's clear that Brill has researched the subject matter, and most of that comes across fabulously. But the plot seems to drag constantly. Another reviewer compared it to a YA novel, but I'd argue that it felt more like a writing workshop
May 03, 2013 rated it liked it
I love historical fiction. I love to read about a time and a place, to be able to see and feel that era and the people of the time.
I didn't really feel it with this book. I enjoyed the story, to an extent, but felt like it didn't quite take off like I wanted it to. Then when I finished the story I found that some of the hardest parts for me to accept while reading were the parts that the author made or added to make the story more interesting!?! What it ended up doing is making me feel more fru
Jo Ann
May 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Having read Tracy Chevalier's The Last Runaway earlier this year helped make this read even more interesting, as the main characters are both Quakers, both have issues with their community, families, churches, and the time frame is only 5 years apart. The Movement of Stars takes place in 1845 on Nantucket, the other in 1850 in Ohio. Knowing next to nothing about the science of astronomy, I found this story very engaging, especially as Hannah, the main character, fights to be recognized in her fi ...more
Jul 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I felt a bit cheated by this book. It really was a young adult novel dressed up as literary historical fiction. No. Many of the characters - including the two main ones - were only sketchily drawn, and secondary characters were really sterotypes - the bumbling suitor, the forgetful old man, etc. In addition, Brill imposes 21st century desires, insights and motivations on a 19th century woman. This is not a bad book - just not a very good one, though I think young girls interested in science and ...more
May 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Love it! First you must like astronomy to enjoy this book; the first several chapters discuss this in details. Hang in there the story does pick up rather quickly after that and away we go.

I love to read stories about women who fought to be their own person, defying what society says they should be; strong, Independent women and “the plus” when they find that one man who understands and loves them for it.
Jul 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did not love it as much as I had hoped when I started reading. A lot of telling, instead of showing, which made the story sluggish with a lot of description. I thought the romantic arc could have been left out with the biggest focus on Hannah as a female astronomer in that particular time period. I liked the astronomy bits, but that's mostly to do with my own interest in the topic. Not a bad read, but not a great one either...
Cristine Mermaid
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Based on the true story of a woman astronomer at a time when there weren't woman astronomers, this books is incredibly empowering, inspiring, and beautifully written.
May 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
While living in the constrictive Quaker society of 19th Century Nantucket, Hannah Price dreams of discovering a comet. This feat would make her a professional astronomer. So goes the premise to Amy Brill’s first novel: The Movement of Stars. Yet this book is not about astronomy. Rather, it focuses on a gifted protagonist struggling to avoid pitfalls that would leave her ordinary.

Hannah’s increasing attraction to a dark-skinned sailor named Isaac Martin quickly becomes the novel’s primary source
Feb 27, 2013 rated it liked it
The year is 1845, the place Nantucket. Miss Hannah Price, in her early 20s, eagerly awaits the return of her twin brother, Edward, who is at sea, as she follows a certain routine for her life: library work, attend Meetings, and search the sky for her own comet.

There are many discoveries in this book, and the ones among the stars and improved ways to seek out more treasures in the skies shine brightly, but not as much as Hannah's self discoveries. She learns, the hard way, that she is limited by
Mar 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
I always enjoy a good story with a strong female who gives a narrow minded society the finger. Which to me is what this story was all about. Some call it a love story which, without ruining the ending if I can manage, I must disagree most vehemently with. Was there a romance in it? Well, yes, Amy Brill must entice her readers, most of whom will most likely be females, with something other than a rebellious woman interested in science. But really, the romance is pretty secondary to the overall st ...more
Hannah is a loner on an island full of Quakers. She spends her nights sweeping the skies for a comet, and her days attempting to keep house for her father, who is rarely at home. It's really Isaac, a student that she takes on, who helps Hannah to see the drabness and unhappiness of her life.

Good things:
*Hannah and Isaac are both believable characters who I loved.
*I felt that the ending was very beautiful.
*The resolution of Hannah's relationship to her sister-in-law is also lovely.

Bad things:
Lisa B.
Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My Thoughts

I started this book with some hesitation. I was certainly interested in the part about stars and astronomy, but wasn’t sure about the time period and the religious basis. For some reason, I thought the story would be stodgy, filled with “thees” and “thys” and stuffiness.

I could not have been more wrong. I felt an immediate connection to Hannah. She was bright and spunky in a time when bright and spunky females were not appreciated. Due to the time period and her religion, womens lives
Kim Overstreet
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed Amy Brill's debut novel, a historical novel set in the mid 1800's in Nantucket. Protagonist Hannah Gardner Price is a passionate and talented amateur astronomer, attempting to discover a new comet and win a prize offered by the King of Denmark. Fiercely intelligent and independent, Hannah is struggling to find her place in the world amongst Nantucket’s rigid Quaker community when she meets Isaac Martin, a dark skinned sailor from the Azores. Hannah agrees to tutor Isaac in c ...more
Aug 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Amy Brill, author of The Movement of Stars, chose the Quaker astronomer Maria Mitchell as the inspiration for her protagonist, Hannah Gardner Price. Readers should take the time to read the author's note at the end of the novel. Brill is very clear about what she takes straight from history, what is inspiration, and what is pure fiction.

I struggled with the pacing and the character development until chapter five. From chapter one to chapter four, I found Hannah Price priggish and unbending. In c
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ok-to-teach
This is a highly readable story of a young, female, amateur astronomer, isolated by geography, faith and gender on Nantucket in the middle of the 19th century. Based loosely on a true story, the novel explores the main character's struggle to balance her science and reason with her religion and emotion. Otherness isolates Hannah from her community but connects her with Isaac, a stranger from the Azores. Hannah's role as a "rising star" in the field of astronomy predicts larger changes for women ...more
Joy Matteson
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
I love historical novels that tell the stories about real-life characters you would otherwise not know much about. Amy Brill's heroine, Hannah Price, is based on the first American female astronomer, Maria Mitchell, in mid 19th century Nantucket. Miss Price is Quaker, and has a true passion for the stars and their orbits. She is blessed with a brilliant mathematical mind, and her adventure into finding a comet so she can live independently in a world where society dictates she marry and fade int ...more
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I'm a writer and producer, and my fiction and nonfiction have been published in Salon, Guernica, and Time Out New York, among other places, and anthologized in Before and After: Stories from New York and Lost and Found. I've been awarded fellowships in fiction by the Edward Albee Foundation, Jentel, the Millay Colony, Fundacion Valparaiso, the Constance Saltonstall Foundation, and the American Ant ...more

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