Book Review – The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

First published, 2019

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Never before have I got to the last page of a novel and gone straight back to the beginning to read it all over again. Until The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics.

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.