HarperCollins Publishers (AU)
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The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics: Feminine Pursuits Kindle Edition
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|Length: 238 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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From the Back Cover
As Lucy Muchelney watches her ex-lover's sham of a wedding, she wishes herself anywhere else. It isn't until she finds a letter from the Countess of Moth, looking for someone to translate a groundbreaking French astronomy text, that she knows where to go. Showing up at the countess' London home, she hoped to find a challenge, not a woman who takes her breath away.
Catherine St. Day looks forward to a quiet widowhood once her late husband's scientific legacy is fulfilled. She expected to hand off the translation and wash her hands of the project--instead, she is intrigued by the young woman who turns up at her door, begging to be allowed to do the work, and she agrees to let Lucy stay. But as Catherine finds herself longing for Lucy, everything she believes about herself and her life is tested.
While Lucy spends her days interpreting the complicated French text, she spends her nights falling in love with the alluring Catherine. But sabotage and old wounds threaten to sever the threads that bind them. Can Lucy and Catherine find the strength to stay together or are they doomed to be star-crossed lovers?--This text refers to the mass_market edition.
"Superbly written...[and] simply stellar in every way...Everything in this resplendent romance is done to perfection."-- "Booklist (starred review)"
"Utterly charming and subtly subversive."-- "Kirkus Reviews (starred review)"
"Waite delivers a luscious gem with The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics...a bittersweet read that will make your heart ache, bursting with genuinely funny, remarkable surprises."-- "Entertainment Weekly"
[A] sweet lesbian Regency that deftly explores the rigid societal strictures imposed on women personally and professionally."-- "Library Journal (starred review)" --This text refers to the audioCD edition.
- File Size : 1242 KB
- Print Length : 238 pages
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Publisher : Avon Impulse (25 June 2019)
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B07HWNNF4D
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: 96,652 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
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First page, heading 1816....that was almost as far as I got. He had to be squeezed tightly and sat on so I could read the first couple of pages. By page 3, he was helping me turn the page 😀 (we'd both enjoyed the Gentleman Jack boxset)
Why shouldn't women be scientists, astronomers, botanists or artists?!. Women's voices and works shouldn't be silenced, stolen or denied by men just because they are women.
These themes run throughout the book and feel very relevant - not a historical feel, at all.
Loved the astronomy and artistry woven throughout. It is a passion that circles, entwines and ultimately brings everything together.
I really enjoyed the book (so did the gerbil 😉)
"The gentleman can go hang," Lucy said, as the assistant gasped and dropped her packet of pins. Lucy's determination was set, however. "I am not a songbird. I am an astronomer."
Lucy Muchelney dreams of being an astronomer, and has spent several years assisting her beloved father with his astronomical work. After her father’s death and her ex-lover’s marriage to a local man, Lucy needs to escape. When she discovers Catherine St Day is looking for an astronomer to translate an astronomical text from the original French, a project her late husband was keen to complete, Lucy turns up on her doorstep for the job. Naturally, because this is a romance novel, the two fall in love – and it’s glorious.
This is the first time I’ve read an f/f historical romance novel that’s been specifically marketed as a historical romance novel, and one of the things I loved most about it was how much it felt like a piece of historical fiction. When I’ve read historical romances in the past, such as Katrina Kendrick’s His Scandalous Lessons and Mimi Matthews’ A Holiday by Gaslight, there’s been something about them that doesn’t quite make me feel like I’m in the 19th century.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed both of those stories a great deal – and I could talk for a long time about how romance, and historical romance in particular, is often a form of escapism, a way for women to imagine a world of romantic entanglements where the men are gentlemen in the truest, most daydream-worthy sense of the word – but I was always aware that they were stories while reading them. The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics, on the other hand, felt as though it could have really happened because its focus was on the kinds of people that history has forgotten.
Many of the Lucys and Catherines of the world have slipped through the cracks of history, forgotten because revealing their lives would have put them in danger, in a time when homosexuality amongst men was punishable by death, and their lives haven’t been recorded by anyone else because they were lived in secret. In Lucy we have a woman trying to break into a STEM field, while in Catherine we have a woman whose art isn’t recognised as an art because embroidery is seen as a quaint little hobby for housewives to do in their spare time.
I love books about women making a name for themselves in STEM – it’s one of the reasons I love The Memoirs of Lady Trent so much – but it was Catherine’s relationship with embroidery I loved most in this book. Her journey is one of self-discovery and self-worth, and I loved the conversations she and Lucy had about the validity of her craft as an art form. Particularly when embroidery and cross-stitch have long been a source of scorn and derision in historical and fantasy fiction, where women talk about how they’d rather be learning to use a sword than learning embroidery because they’re not like other girls™.
My only real complaint about this novel would be that I wish the romance had been a bit more of a slow-burn, but because the two women fall for each other fairly quickly it did mean Waite was able to explore what it means to have a healthy relationship; how two adults talk through their problems and how they solve those problems together. This is something we need more of in all genres, whether the romance is a major focus or not. I loved how this story ended and I can’t wait to read more f/f historical romance from Olivia Waite in the new year!
But I mention it because usually in the first book you get the meeting and falling in love and in the second the testing of that love against the wider world.
Both of this things happen in this one book and at some point the angst felt a bit forced.
That said, and out of the way, the rest of this book is perfect. The build up, the development of their relationship, their insecurities. Waite effortlessly makes this people real and complex and flawed.
It was a fantastic trip to read it, because it felt like I had the privilege of seeing these people grow into their own and gain confidence to take over the world that is rightfully theirs. And ours.
Reading this stories, about lesbians, about women in stem, about women in art, about them finding love and happiness and recognition is something we all need to read about. To insert in our collective imagination that this stories exist, and them push to make them more of a reality.
There is little to say about the romance side of it — apart from that it’s really well done. Both characters are well-rounded and complicated and fully fleshed-out. Lucy and Catherine’s dynamic with each other is wonderful: it’s beautifully paced and supportive. While each has their own anxieties and insecurities that affect the progress of the relationship it doesn’t have that horribly “set-up miscommunication” feel.
Personally, what I loved the most about The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics was the focus on aspects of women’s’ lives in this time that we don’t get to examine often.
One of the central themes of the novel is the fact that, while women have always been involved in what are often traditionally seen as masculine pursuits (such as science and art), their contributions are often overlooked or even stolen by their male counterparts.
I really loved Lucy, her devotion to astronomy and her dedication to writing her translation but I was equally interested in Catherine’s pursuit of her art. She’s always been her husband shadow, but she’s a talented needle-worker and designer. She feels that her talent is something simply frivolous, not the ‘real’ artwork that she sees men proudly displaying in exhibits. It’s interesting and tragic that this is still often the case today. Watching Catherine come to see these social constructions — and where she herself falls within them — was a wonderful journey.
The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics is an amazing novel. It’s got wonderful characters, a beautifully developed romance and an intriguing plotline, all framed within a complex world in which these women survive and express themselves.
I loved this book.
Lucy Muchelney is the surviving daughter of a celebrated astronomer. Nobody knows that, in the last frail years of his life, Lucy has been completing the complicated mathematics in her father's papers. She has assisted in his correspondence and in his observations and is, in every way, an astronomer worthy of praise and success. The trouble is it’s 1816 and nobody believes women are capable of scientific study.
Having had her heart broken by the talented but arguably capricious Priscilla, Lucy receives word from Catherine, the Countess of Moth, a virtual stranger, only known to Lucy through her correspondence and her connection to the Polite Science Society. Catherine seeks Lucy’s advice on where a translator might be found to interpret an important astronomical work from French into English.
With no desire to stay home, with her brother threatening to sell her telescope and her former lover engaged in married bliss down the road, Lucy sets off to London, to seek the position of translator for herself. But she is in no way prepared for how beautiful and aloof the Countess is.
So ensues a dramatic love story which I totally devoured. Full of humour:
“It wasn’t that she failed to appreciate the nobility of the endeavor. It was only that she’d wanted to put it aside sometimes to do other things. Like eat. Or sleep.”
Chapter One, The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite
And unquestionable heartbreak:
“You could never mistake the sound of true grief, once you had felt it yourself.”
Chapter Three, The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite
The romantic scenes are stunning and really rather English:
“It was no small achievement, to make a countess curse.”
Chapter Six, The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite
The only quibble for me was the use of American English in a British English Regency period piece, for example: honor, favor, sidewalk, fall (for autumn), etc. That said, it wasn’t enough for me to knock a star off my rating. How could I, when I’m rereading it now and may have to read it again before the week is out?
Highly recommended. Really.