Emma Harcourt

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The Brightest Star

book | Fiction | Jul 2022
ANZ → HarperCollins (Ed. Jo Mackay)

A thirst for learning and a passion for astronomy draw an extraordinary young woman deep into the intellectual maelstrom, political complexities and religious extremism of Renaissance Florence. This beautifully crafted novel will appeal to readers of Karen Brooks' The Good Wife of Bath and Pip Williams' Dictionary of Lost Words.

1496. It is the height of the Renaissance and its flowering of intellectual and artistic endeavour, but the city state of Florence is in the grip of fundamentalist preacher Friar Girolamo Savonarola. Its good people believe the Lord speaks through him, just as certainly as the Sun circles the Earth.

For Leonarda Lunetta, eldest daughter of the learned Signore Vincenzo Fusili, religion is not as interesting as the books she shares with her beloved father. Reading is an escape from the ridicule flung her way, for Luna is not like other girls. She was born with a misshapen leg and that, and her passion for intellectual pursuits - particularly astronomy - alters how society sees her and how she sees the world.

Luna wants to know, to learn, to become an astronomer who charts the nights sky - certainly not the dutiful, marriageable daughter all of Florence society insists upon. So when Luna meets astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, she is not surprised that his heretical beliefs confirm her view that world is not as it is presented - or how it could be. These dangerous ideas bring her into conflict with the preacher Savonarola, and her future is changed irrevocably as politics, extremism and belief systems ignite in a dangerous conflagration.

Luna is a woman born out of time, the brightest star of her generation, but can she reconcile the girl of her father's making with this new version of herself? And if she does, will Renaissance Italy prove too perilous and dark a place for a free-thinking woman?


Katie McGowan manages the translation rights for The Brightest Star

Audio Rights


The audio rights are handled by Pippa Masson.

Film Rights


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"The heart and soul of this magnificent book is the remarkable Luna, a courageous, shining star – a heroine for all times. Set against the exquisitely rendered backdrop of Renaissance Florence, Harcourt’s novel draws you into a world where to be a curious woman with a passion for knowledge is a dangerous thing. The Brightest Star is my kind of historical fiction – a beautifully written story about a brave woman fighting to make the world a better and brighter place."

Natasha Lester, New York Times bestselling author of The Riviera House

Pippa Masson
Curtis Brown Australia
Email Pippa Masson
Translation Rights
Katie McGowan
+44 (0)20 7393 4425
Email Katie McGowan