a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
In this novella the heroine's mother is an amateur astronomer computing the orbit of a comet. She has no recognition from professional astronomers. She is invited by her fellow upper class ladies in England to present her work so that they can openly mock her. The two pivotal scenes in the story occur during these lectures. After the first lecture, the daughter and heroine of the tale is completely humiliated, while her mother is blithely unaware of the amusement she has been for the other ladies. They invite her to give a larger public lecture in a hall with plans to ridicule her. The amateur astronomer agrees despite her daughter's warnings because she is hoping for just anyone to ever listen to her work. I will not say what happens at the second talk. All the mathematics mentioned in the talks and subsequent questions (when mathematical) do make sense mathematically. There is no discussion of astronomy or telecopes, just elliptic orbits and deviations from them. The author has in fact completed an undergraduate math degree at UC Berkeley. Yet the author tells the story from the point of view of a heroine who is not trained in mathematics quite successfully. She captures the exuberance and love for mathematics that the heroine has.
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(Maintained by Alex Kasman,
College of Charleston)