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John Pipkin

John Pipkin was born in Baltimore and received his Ph.D. in British Literature from Rice University. His first novel, Woodsburner, was named one of the best books of 2009 by the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the San Francisco Chronicle. It won the Massachusetts Book Award for Fiction, the Steven Turner Award for Best Work of First Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters, and the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Pipkin lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and son.

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The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter: Starts strong but loses focus and energy

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The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter by John Pipkin

The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter by John Pipkin is the second book I’ve read this year that makes use of the story of Caroline Herschel, sister of famed astronomer William Herschel, though I’d say with less success than the first (The Stargazer’s Sister by Carrie Brown). Pipkin’s novel has some nicely lyrical passages and is rife with sharp historical and scientific detail, but the author seems to lose control of his story about halfway through, leading to a dissipation of effect.

It is another Caroline, not William’s sister, who is actually the focal point of The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter. This is Caroline... Read More