The Blind Astronomer's Daughter by John Pipkin

The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter
John Pipkin


The second half of the eighteenth century sees an explosion in astronomical research. Amateur and professional astronomers across Britain and Ireland search the heavens in increasing numbers, mapping the skies and seeking out new phenomena.

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” . . . believable historical narrative.”

In the city of Bath, England, musician William Herschel and his sister Caroline plot binary stars to gauge the size of the cosmos. In Inistioge, Ireland, Arthur Ainsworth builds an observatory on his inherited house and searches for a world he believes orbits close to the Sun. So focused is Ainsworth on the night skies he has little time for Earthly matters. As long as he and his adopted daughter Caroline can do their work, Ainsworth is content.

Herschel and his sister Caroline accidentally discover a new planet beyond Saturn. Feted by the King, William becomes Astronomer Royal, but the equally deserving Caroline is overlooked. In Ireland Caroline Ainsworth loses her father and, thanks to the estate’s conniving middleman, her livelihood in a matter of hours. She and Finn, the village blacksmith’s son, can’t declare their love for each other before they are forced to move on, leaving Inistioge for London and Edinburgh. Years later in 1798 Caroline and Finn are reunited, but Ireland is seething with rebellion. Caught up in events beyond their control the lovers are parted once more.

The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter is a beautifully written story of human desire, hopes. obsession, injustice and the striving for the unobtainable set against a turbulent time in history. Pipkin shares Patrick O’Brien’s gift for believable historical narrative.

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Reviewer: Cindy A. Matthews