The Brightest Star | Book Review


Rating: 3 out of 5.

Slow and gentle, if a little unexciting.

Genre: Historical Fiction
Author: Emma Harcourt
Published: July 2022
Publisher: Harlequin Fiction
Pages: 386 (paperback)

Thank you to Harlequin for a review copy.

I am absolutely in love with the cover for this book – isn’t it just the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen? I’m also particularly taken with this era combined with feminism, which is what I was expecting from this book. I kind of got it. This is about Luna who is an intelligent and disabled woman for her time, and faces the threat of persecution for both of those things.

It’s an interesting story that I felt promised a little more than it delivered on. No doubt the setting is gorgeous, who doesn’t want a story set in a Renaissance Florence? But that being said, we’re very limited in the settings we see because Luna, the narrator (for the most part) is also limited in where she can go. I guess I had hoped a little more action would happen, and so ultimately I felt this was lacking plot for me.

I didn’t love the split of narration between Luna and her father, it felt a bit random to me and I would’ve preferred to have it 100% from Luna’s perspective and see her be more daring. Luna is sometimes in danger, but it’s mostly from the temperamental moods of her father who sometimes loves her and sometimes is ashamed of her. And whilst that’s valid, it made me feel like Luna wasn’t really risking very much in the end as no one but a few people knew she was intelligent anyway.

But if we take this simply a story that gives you a snapshot of the era and the attitudes of the time, then I think it’s a good read in that sense. It’s slow and gentle, so if that’s your kind of historical fiction then this might be for you. I liked the writing, if not the book’s structure, and I loved the characters. So despite a few things, I still overall enjoyed the reading experience of this – but perhaps it’s not quite my cup of tea. I’d certainly be curious to read more of Harcourt’s books if she picks such interesting settings!

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