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

Wednesday, July 21, 2021 - 07:00
book cover

I read this book through an interesting lens, because I was reading it in parallel with a how-to book on writing romance plots. And while I loved 90% of Lady’s Guide, the parts that clunked for me were all plot elements that the how-to book insisted were absolutely necessary plot elements in a romance. While that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of Waite’s book, it did lessen my inclination to take writing advice from the how-to book. This is a well-grounded historical romance between two women with unusual avocations: astronomical calculation and fine embroidery. In between we get an “undermine the patriarchy” plot, a sexy romance, and a fun last-minute twist. The requisite roadblocks to the romance center mostly around the characters’ pre-existing emotional damage, with a touch of disparity of economic status. The one that didn’t work for me was the last-minute fight/misunderstanding at a point in the plot where I felt an external conflict would have worked just as well (or even better) to move the plot where it needed to be. But the characters are engaging and the history, as I said, is solid – including the social context for women’s same-sex romantic experiences. Definitely recommended.

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