The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

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?

Review

Lucy Muchelney isn’t your average lady. She’s worked side-by-side with her father as an astronomer. She picked up most of the work during his declining years, but never signed her name to it when she sent it to the Polite Science Society. Once she arrives in London hoping to translate a French astronomy text for the society, but as a woman, they see her of little value.

Catherine St. Day, Lady Moth, irritated with the good ole boys of the regency era, decides she will fund the project and have Lucy translate the text as she wishes. In the process, the women end up falling for each other. It’s hard not to when you find someone as supportive and encouraging as they are.

While the cover is indicative of the romance aspect of this novel, it was much more than a regency romance. It showed the difficulties of being a woman in the world of academia during this time. It still is to this day, but to have it so forcefully shoved in your face over and over as Lucy and Lady Moth had, it would be discouraging to continue the work they loved.

Lucy was an incredibly bright character that I thoroughly enjoyed. She fought for what she wanted professionally and personally. Even when her brother doubted her and used her success to benefit himself, she was the better person. She was a true academic because she could handle legitimate criticisms and was willing to learn from any mistakes she may have made in her work. That’s was academia is meant to be. Hypothesis and experiment lead to theory.  

Catherine St. Day learned who she could be when Lucy entered her life. Her husband and many of the men in her life put little value in the work she wanted to pursue. She was able to travel and explore different cultures, but her observations only translated into a lady’s art, needlepoint. She was truly talented and as Lucy pointed out, an artist. The detail in her work was so rich I could see her work in my mind while I was reading.

This was an easy read to get lost in. I could hear Lucy and Catherine’s voices in my head during dialogue. I could picture Catherine’s home, their clothing, and London at that time. I would hope to still meet women like Lucy Mulchelney and Catherine St. Day. Women who were willing to challenge the status quo and to live life as they choose.

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