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The Stargazer's Sister by Carrie Brown

The Stargazer's Sister

by Carrie Brown

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Dedicated and brilliant, Caroline Herschel was an accomplished astronomer in her own right. An attack of typhus in her childhood stunted her growth at four feet three inches and left her scarred. Her abusive mother kept her as a household slave. When William, her older brother by 12 years, rescues her from a life of drudgery and takes her to England she keeps house for him while he trains her as both a singer and as his astronomical assistant. Throughout their life together she is devoted to William. When years later William announces his engagement her world falls apart and she is forced to move into her own accommodation. However, whilst William is on honeymoon, Lina discovers a comet, the first of several she would discover throughout her life.

Extensively researched and wonderfully told, this is a fabulous read and I have gone on to find out more about it's central character because of it. Much enjoyed, well worth reading. ( )
  DebbieMcCauley | Jan 29, 2017 |
The Stargazer's Sister is a fictionalized telling of the life stories of the gifted composer and astronomer William Herschel and his equally gifted sister, Caroline. Caroline is abused by her mother and later rescued by her brother who takes her under his wing and teaches her his crafts.

Throughout her life with William, Caroline lives in William's shadow. When he leaves her alone to go on a wedding trip with his new wife, Caroline's true genius becomes apparent.

When William dies, we wonder how Caroline will get by without him, only to discover that her own strengths are enough to carry her through.

I highly recommend. ( )
1 vote nevans1972 | May 3, 2016 |
The stargazer's sister by Carrie Brown
Starts out with Carolina/Leena and her brother William on a ship going towards England from Holland. She is to tend to him and his star experiments.
Love that he points out the constellations to her as they travel. Time goes back to 1755 when she was younger and she recalls other good times-the moon that links her and her brother-no matter where they are they are one as each looks at the moon.
And bad times when she was deathly sick, but alive, scarred for life...liked hearing the traditions, parades, feasts in Holland.
William teaches her much as he's a music teacher and brings in money from teaching others and Leena.
Circumstances arise that allow her to travel to London for a week and she fears when she returns she will have not only a new sister in law but a new place for her to stay.
Such caring for one another as they accomplish the inconceivable then and after.
I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device). ( )
1 vote jbarr5 | Mar 15, 2016 |
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 astronomical endeavors. Lina became indispensable- or so she thought. After years of serving William in all aspects of his life - being both housemaid who cleaned the chamber pots and scientific assistant who devoted every hour to his comfort- he suddenly married a rich, young, widow and Lina was unceremoniously removed from their shared house. But her accomplishments- she discovered several comets and was the first woman to be paid by the Crown for doing science-secured her place in history, despite being overshadowed by her brother.

Brown writes in the third person but always from Lina’s point of view. She presents us with a woman who works until she is bone tired but continues anyway because the work simply must be done- as well as because she is fascinated with astronomy. She also loves her brother, almost to an unnatural degree. She takes his marriage as a great betrayal.

The writing is lovely in most places; the descriptions of dwelling, life, and work are detailed and wonderful. Life was hard back then, and Brown makes us feel every over-worked muscle. But Lina’s life had beauty as well as endless toil; the night sky in all its brilliance was hers to explore. I really enjoyed the book, except for a couple of places where Brown deviates too far from the historical record. A novelist must invent events that fit into the historical record- and Lina left extensive journals. But the author invents a big event that never happened, and excludes someone who existed from the story; not by merely ignoring the person but by explicitly stating that no such person lived. I knew enough about the Herschels that this irritated me. Still, it’s a very good read. ( )
1 vote lauriebrown54 | Mar 8, 2016 |
What I liked most about this book is that it introduced me to brilliant astronomers William and Carolina Herschel about whom I knew nothing. I learned about astronomy and building telescopes. But I didn't get the sort of story about Carolina's success I wanted. It was more about her hardships, trials, and subservience to William than I liked. ( )
1 vote terran | Feb 26, 2016 |
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The wind is with them, and she watches from the ship's rail as the hard places disappear, fortress and stony beach and the long humped quay at Hellevoetsluis, the church and bell tower reduced in two minutes to dark notches on the horizon.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0804197938, Hardcover)

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 sister Caroline from a life of drudgery in Germany and brings her to England and a world of music-making and stargazing. Lina, as Caroline is known, serves as William’s assistant and the captain of his exhilaratingly busy household. William is generous, wise, and charismatic, an obsessive genius whom Lina adores and serves with the fervency of a beloved wife. When William suddenly announces that he will be married, Lina watches as her world collapses. With her characteristically elegant prose, Brown creates from history a compelling story of familial collaboration and conflict, the sublime beauty of astronomy, and the small but essential place we have within a vast and astonishing cosmos. Through Lina’s trials and successes, we witness the dawning of an early feminist consciousness, of a woman struggling to find her own place among the stars.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 13 Jul 2015 21:37:08 -0400)

William Herschel rescues his sister Caroline from a life of drudgery in Germany and brings her to England and a world of music making and stargazing. Lina serves as William's assistant and the captain of his exhilaratingly busy household. An obsessive genius whom Lina adores and serves with the fervency of a beloved wife, her world collapses when William suddenly announces that he will be married.… (more)

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