The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics

Monday, May 18, 2020

The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics
Olivia Waite, 2019

Premise: Lucy Muchelney goes to London out of the desire to work in the science she loves, but also to forget her lover's decision to leave her to get married. She doesn't expect to find the solution to both problems in the person of Catherine St. Day, Countess of Moth.

About halfway through reading this book, I thought, I feel pandered to... and it feels really good. This book was a frothy delight with a powerful heart.

I adored both Lucy and Catherine. Their concerns and attitudes felt both right for their time and inescapably modern. Lucy had been assisting her astronomer father for years, but when he dies, at first she doesn't realize she's lost the only person who believes she can be a scientist. Catherine accompanied her late husband on several research trips, which gives her a somewhat jaded view of scientific pursuits, especially as conducted by "great" men. She has serious skills in embroidery and fabric design, but has never been allowed to think of herself as an artist.

Add to all this Lucy dealing with the emotional fallout after being left by her first lover and Catherine trying to reconcile her fear of remarriage or commitment with her desire for love, and neither the romantic nor the scientific plotline lack depth. It's inspired by the actual women who have always, always worked in the arts and sciences despite disapproval and obstacles, and also stands in its own right as a paean to women (and other marginalized populations) supporting each other.

Just a joy to read.

4 Stars - A Very Good Book

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