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The Stargazer's Sister

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  1,023 ratings  ·  215 reviews
From the acclaimed author of The Last First Day: a beautiful new period novel—a nineteenth-century story of female empowerment before its time—based on the life of Caroline Herschel, sister of the great astronomer William Herschel and an astronomer in her own right.

This exquisitely imagined novel opens as the great astronomer and composer William Herschel rescues his siste
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published January 19th 2016 by Pantheon
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Betty Not necessarily, but in this case the romance seemed contrived and out of place.

It is true, though, as a previous reviewer mentioned, that too often …more
Not necessarily, but in this case the romance seemed contrived and out of place.

It is true, though, as a previous reviewer mentioned, that too often the fiction becomes remembered truth - this happens with film too.(less)

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Average rating 3.69  · 
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 ·  1,023 ratings  ·  215 reviews

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Dec 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Caroline "Lina" Herschel is the twelve years younger sister of the 18th Century astronomer William Herschel. This is her story. WHEW!

For the entire first half of the book I would have given it a 4 star with no equivocations. The second half is barely a 3.5. But I had to round it up because Lina is grabbed to her very depths. And this is a difficult, difficult task for a woman who did not follow any prescribed "normal" for her period and placement. Beyond that outlier existence, she is further bu
Book Riot Community
A wonderful historical novel based on the life of Caroline Herschel, sister of the great composer and astronomer William Herschel, and an unacknowledged genius in her own right. When William brings Caroline to England to live with him and assist in his composing and astronomy work, she is thrilled. But then William's upcoming nuptials threaten to steal her happy life away. The Stargazer's Sister is a vividly imagined tale of female empowerment in a time of oppression and of an unknown talent hid ...more
Oct 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
William Herschel, the famous astronomer and composer, is best known for his discovery of the planet Uranus and for his telescope modernizations. This exemplary man had an equally extraordinary sister Caroline (whom he worked with side-by-side). Caroline was the first paid woman in the astronomy field, received awards/medals, and was a member of the Royal Astronomical Society. Not to mention she discovered several comets! Quite impressive, right? Carried Brown brings this sibling relationship and ...more
I'm not going to lie, here, this is a slow moving book. There are moments of shattering betrayal and cruelty, but there are far more moments of grueling work, with the brother in the grip of an obsession with the stars and the sister starved for intellectual flight. Yet I found both Lina and the book combine an overarching sweetness and a gritty determination not to be ignored that made it impossible to stop reading. I wanted to know more about her world, her quest, her future. Mesmerizing and l ...more
Jun 02, 2017 rated it did not like it
Both William and Caroline Herschal were astronomers who have vastly contributed to the field. From William's discovery of Uranus to Caroline's discovery of various comets.

Both were highly intelligent scientist who dedicated their lives to science. This book..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
Katie/Doing Dewey
Nov 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Summary: This was fantastic historical fiction, with a fascinating time period and main character, both brought vividly to life.

Although you may recognize the name of William Herschel (astronomer, first to observe Uranus, designer of a new telescope), you may not know how involved his sister, Caroline, was in his work. Rescued from a life of drudgery with her uncaring mother, Lina was deeply grateful to come live with her brother. She embraced the knowledge he was able to share, becoming not onl
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Once again I became lost in the beautiful descriptive language that is present in all of Carrie Brown's books. Her descriptions of nature - the landscape, the heavens - are absolutely lovely. In this book of historical fiction she gives Caroline Herschel, sister of the stargazer William, the recognition she deserves. William saw something in his 12 years younger sister that compelled him to spend time with her, to teach her, to care about her. Caroline and William's mother, exhausted by very fre ...more
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a novel that I found deeply satisfying while at the same time profoundly annoying on numerous levels. While reading it I was initially alienated by its pretentiousness (having the narrative in the present tense and its past in the pluperfect isn't clever or arty, just self-indulgent) and came very close to throwing it at the wall before I reached page 50. However, my fascination with Caroline and William Herschel as science-historical figures kept me going, and I'm overall glad that it d ...more
Jan 23, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 astronomic stars

I am not sure how to review this without letting my modern 21st century opinions cloud the life of the awe-inspiring Caroline 'Lina' Herschel. The story of her life and achievements were fascinating, and I only wished for more. The structure and pacing detracted from my pleasure of the read, often causing me to read without knowing exactly where in Lina's life I was. Sympathy and regard for Lina's determination and achievements were continuously evoked, yet I wanted to learn
Kate Howe
Feb 23, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing book! Although it is historical fiction, it is based on the life of Caroline Herschel, an astronomer.

Caroline is a sister to the noted astronomer William Herschel. She lives in Germany doing what is expected of women at that time despite her high intelligence and deep desire to learn.

At the beginning of the novel, Charoline is saved from a contuining life of housework when her brother takes her with him to England.

William is also a great musician as well as an astronomer, and h
Karen Raskin
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
5 plus stars. I completely and totally loved this book. Historical fiction, gorgeous language, strong emotion. I was sorry when it was over.
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a long book to get through, a very slow burn. I did enjoy the book, but felt like 25 percent of the book could have been removed and it would have been a better read. I did love some of the writing, felt very poetic to me. The relationship's in the story were either very sad or beautiful.

Overall, this is a good read or listen in my case!
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Caroline Herschel did not have an easy life. She caught typhus as a child and it both stunted her growth and left her with facial scars. She knew she’d never marry, and thought she had no future but to continue as a household slave to her exhausted, constantly pregnant, and deliberately cruel mother. Thankfully for her, her elder brother William responded to her letter which just said “Save me” and brought her to his home in England to keep house for him, train as a singer, and aid him in his as ...more
Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Maybe you have heard of William Herschel, renowned German composer and astronomer. But it is unlikely you know much about Caroline Herschel, his younger sister. She is the woman behind the man. She walked beside his greatness with her own brilliance that catapulted his dreams and ideas to discover, build and learn things that most deemed outrageous, if not completely impossible in the mid 1700’s. William, whose mind worked at a frantic pace he could not control taught Lina from a very young age ...more
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
It was so amazing that this woman gave up her life to further her brother's desire to know the heavens. Greater love hath no man or in this case woman....
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 historically fascinating; the writing fabulous. Lina made me think about the novel Miss Jane, Brad Watson’s historical novel. Strong, positive, inspiring women.
I was disappointed, reading the author’s acknowledgements, that some of characters I loved were fictional and not a part of Lina’s real life.
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Stargazer’s Sister is one of those rare treats we readers long to find.

It is beautifully written, with scene descriptions that allow the reader to feel as if they have visited the locations themselves. The characters are rich and believable, with all of the different facets we humans possess. A significant portion of the book is dedicated to the characters passion for astronomy, which, rather than becoming a scientific treatise, becomes a character unto itself.

The Stargazer’s Sister is rich
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very beautifully written historic novel, with a deep focus on the humanity of he characters.
Lis Carey
This is a great fictional biography of the life of Caroline Herschel, younger sister of astronomer William Hersschel. For many years she was the unfavored younger daughter of the Herschel family, or more specifically unfavored by her her mother, or by her oldest brother, Jacob.

Her father Isaac and her second-oldest sibling, William, though, were very fond of her, and she acquired a pretty fair education along the way. When William was settled and established in England, having gone there origina
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Mar 03, 2016 rated it liked it
This review originally appeared on my blog,


Before coming across THE STARGAZER’S SISTER, I had never heard of Caroline Herschel. Now that I know more about her, I’m sad she’s been lost to history, likely because she was overshadowed by her more famous brother, and also because she was a woman.

THE STARGAZER’S SISTER is not a feel good book. But I think it is realistic of a woman’s life in the late 1700s. Lina’s early life is cruel, including an abusive mother and typhus. Typhus conde
Catherine at The Gilmore Guide to Books
Much of Caroline Herschel’s life is spent alone with her angry, unhappy mother, working as little better than a slave for a woman who has never shown her any interest or kindness. As a young girl she contracted typhus but it is the 1700s and there is nothing to be done but hope she survives. When she does it is to even greater misery from her mother who seems to enjoy telling her that her pockmarked face and stunted height mean she will never attract a husband. Caroline’s only source of joy is h ...more
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeously written, enthralling tale: I was disappointed that it wasn't closer to the "truth," not because I think historical fiction needs to stick to the facts (because where is the fun in that??), but because I wanted it all to be true. I liked the heroine so very much and wanted her to have a life that included both professional satisfaction and personal joy, to have the life that Carrie Brown imagined for her. Like so many women (and men) of her era, this was not the case, but Professor Bro ...more
Karen Osborn
Dec 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Carrie Brown is a master of creating characters and taking you immediately inside their worlds. In this case the world is historical, and it’s filled with the passions of astronomy and visions of the sky as seen through newly invented telescopes. You can feel the excitement of looking at the night sky and identifying the cosmos. The novel shows Lina Herschel’s remarkable life, including the hardships that came with living in a time period when women were not thought to have such intelligence and ...more
Nov 15, 2015 rated it liked it
I received a preview copy of this book from Penguin/Random House's "First Read" program.

The main/title character lived in a world where there was but one option for women - marriage. Caroline was able to escape from a hostile upbringing and break society's mold by assisting her brother in the course of his life's work in astronomy.

Caroline is the only developed character, and even her depiction has areas of shallowness. The celestial world is the most vividly described. Being a space junky, I w
Janette Mcmahon
Mar 24, 2016 rated it liked it
I was very interested in the subject of this novel and Brown did well with her research, though remember this is historical fiction and she, of course, has added/deleted people/events as needed. I didn't feel a connection to the book nor the characters as I read. I felt I was "flat reading", no ups or downs, thus my 3 star review.
nikkia neil
May 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss
Words can hardly explain how much I loved this book. I've read biographies and even seen programs on tv about the Herschels, but nothing moves me like a novel. I devoured this book, wish it were longer, and enjoyed every word. Carrie Brown got it right.
Sep 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Carrie Brown has penned a riveting story of the early probings into astronomy. A combination of a history & science lesson, Brown's poetic writing makes the heavens come alive with the story of William & Caroline Herschel & their relentless quest to open the universe to a questioning populous. ...more
Nov 17, 2015 rated it liked it
When reading a fictional tale based on historical figures, I appreciate it when the author takes the time to incorporate basic facts into their view of events. Brown failed to do so on numerous occasions to the detriment of this work.
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Carrie Brown is the author of five novels – her most recent novel is The Rope Walk (Pantheon, 2007) – and a collection of short stories, The House on Belle Isle. Her other novels include Rose’s Garden, Lamb in Love, The Hatbox Baby and Confinement.

She has won many awards for her work, including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the Barnes and Noble Discover Award, the Janet Heidinger K

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