A novel of ambition and obsession centered on the race to discover Pluto in 1930, pitting an untrained Kansas farm boy against the greatest minds of Harvard at the run-down Lowell Observatory in Arizona
In 1928, the boy who will discover Pluto, Clyde Tombaugh, is on the family farm, grinding a lens for his own telescope under the immense Kansas sky. In Flagstaff, Arizona, the staff of Lowell Observatory is about to resume the late Percival Lowell's interrupted search for Planet X. Meanwhile, the immensely rich heir to a chemical fortune has decided to go west to hunt for dinosaurs and in Cambridge, Massachussetts, the most beautiful girl in America is going slowly insane while her ex-heavyweight champion boyfriend stands by helplessly, desperate to do anything to keep her. Inspired by the true story of Tombaugh and set in the last gin-soaked months of the flapper era, Percival's Planet tells the story of the intertwining lives of half a dozen dreamers, schemers, and madmen. Following Tombaugh's unlikely path from son of a farmer to discoverer of a planet, the novel touches on insanity, mathematics, music, astrophysics, boxing, dinosaur hunting, shipwrecks—and what happens when the greatest romance of your life is also the source of your life's greatest sorrow.
The astronomer's wife is on her knees in the garden, facing away from him, stabbing at the soil with a silver trowel, her head covered with a big straw gardener's hat that is in fact a thrift- store sombrero whose dangly felt pompoms she long ago snipped off. During the winter when the garden is mostly dormant the mutilated sombrero lives on a hook in the laundry room, and it is one of the trusty signs of spring that Patsy has taken it down and pulled its little beaded cinch snug around her jaw and bulled her way out into the yard in just a track suit, despite Clyde's
A novel of ambition and obsession centered on the race to discover Pluto in 1930, pitting an untrained Kansas farm boy against the greatest minds of Harvard at the run-down Lowell Observatory in Arizona.
“What makes ‘Percival’s Planet’ so irresistible is a more down-to-earth human focus brought to the story through fictional characters and events. Byers has the rare ability to break a reader’s heart practically from the moment each new character is introduced.” - Oregonlive.com
“Percival is a smart read, a lovely read, and no matter what Pluto is, planet or planetoid, Byers’ own world is just as interesting” – Pittsburgh City Paper
“This is the stuff of page-turners, loaded with romance, ambition and betrayals. With this kind of book, once you speed through the first two-thirds, you start rationing out chapters to yourself one at a time to make it last.” – The Courier-Journal