After the death of her father, Lucy Muchelney’s days as an astronomer seem over. After all, as her brother so delicately put it, who would want a female astronomer? Her lover’s wedding to a man is the last straw for the young woman, who runs away to London. Her not-very-well-thought plan is to convince the Countess of Moth to allow her to translate a famous French astronomer’s groundbreaking book. Catherine St Day, the countess, was content with never having to support another scientist after her self-centred fame-hungry husband passed away. She also never expected to fall for a younger woman.
I listened to the audiobook and I’m in two minds about the narration. I liked the narrator’s voice and pace, and I loved Lucy’s voice. I thought Catherine’s voice sounded too old at first but since she often seems to think herself to be old, it worked. The other female voices were good too, but the men’s voices often sounded oddly high and, for some, downright childish. The narrator offset this by varying accents, which I liked (except for the French accent but that’s on me, French accents make me cringe, even real ones).
I enjoyed the relationship between the two main characters a lot, the mutual respect and admiration. It was nice to see them get together pretty early in the story and watch them navigate the newness of it, their surroundings, the artificial opposition of art and science. The best part was the way each helps elevate the other, believes in her and in her capabilities and that these capabilities should be widely appreciated. I liked that Catherine’s insecurity and Lucy’s well-founded ego weren’t enough to break them. There’s some conflict and miscommunication but both make sense and don’t last too long. The character growth, especially on Catherine’s part, is really heartwarming.
Don’t expect historical accuracy, it’s not that kind of book. The author uses the atmosphere associated with the period the story is supposedly set in and turns it into her own imaginary world. There’s a steampunk energy to it, an almost fantastical feel that makes me think it would make a very enjoyable and empowering movie. Lesbian historical movies seem to be trendy these days and it would be nice to have one with a happy ending for once.