A galvanizing story of earthly heartbreak and otherworldly triumph, by the writer John Updike called "one of the most interesting American novelists at work".
It's the spring of 1877 in Washington, D.C., and at the U.S. Naval Observatory, Hugh Allison's plan to project an image through time and space takes on urgent life when the mathematically gifted Cynthia May enters his orbit as one of the observatory's human "computers." But the fate of Hugh's heavenly vision-and of his love affair with Cynthia, a Civil War widow whose beauty has been shadowed by worry and poverty-may be out of his hands, decided instead by an astrologer and by the actions of a dangerously magnetic politician.
Thomas Mallon's moving romance mixes actual historical figures with fictional ones. By combining earthly matters-such as politics and money-with heavenly ones of love and immortality, Mallon evokes a distant time and place with astonishing immediacy and confirms his place as one of our most original and delightful writers.