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BLOG: The Moving Earth--Galileo's Heresy


What are they in the book-world? They are novels that are part of a series that can be read individually. Granted, I'll state that they are always best if read WITH the rest of the series, but the good news is that a reader won't be left behind, should they pick one up that isn't the first or even second book.

I have done this before. I have inadvertently read a book that is part of a series and not realized that fact. When done, I enjoyed it enough to go back to the beginning of the series and begin officially. One author I did this with is Roman mystery writer Lindsey Davis, a prolific writer whose books have always thrilled me from start to finish.

This week on my blog, I'm delighted to host Deborah Swift for the first time. Her books about Venetian women in the late 16th-early 17th centuries are highly acclaimed. And Deborah has a contract for a traditional novel set in WWII coming out in spring, 2023. I know you'll be interested in learning more about her work, so take a look at the fascinating blog she's written for us this week, about the famous Galileo and his early scientific work, determining the certainty of earth's spherical nature. Let's just say that the Roman Catholic Church of his day was less than pleased.

And by the way--Deborah's novels comprise a series, but they are also STAND-ALONES! So pick one up. It doesn't even matter which one!

Welcome to Brook's Journal, Deborah. I hope you'll come back and visit again!

The Moving Earth – Galileo’s Heresy.

by Deborah Swift

There’s some sort of sense in the Flat Earth Society when you have no access to any kind of scientific instrument. From our perspective here on the ground, with no access to planes, drones, rockets or telescopes, the idea that we could be standing on a round planet that is hurtling through space seems incredibly fanciful.

In Renaissance Italy, the birthplace of Galileo, this was exactly what it was like. At that time only a few men had access to magnification. Astronomy developed enormously in the first decade of the 1600s with the invention of the optical ‘telescope’, previously known as a ‘spyglass’. Galileo Galilei did not actually invent the telescope but he was the first person to use it in what we’d call a scientific study, to observe the night sky and record his discoveries, documenting his observations of the Moon, Jupiter and the Milky Way.

Galileo’s book, Sidereus Nuncius or The Starry Messenger, published in 1610 made him famous, and brought him widespread renown. At this time the orthodox view of the Roman Catholic Church was to follow literally the words of the Bible; that God had personally created the heavens and the earth, and for them, the planet Earth and man’s place on it were the centre of the universe that God created around us.

Galileo, called ‘the father of modern science’ by Einstein, on the other hand, supported the view of his forerunner Copernicus, who posited that the Earth actually orbited the Sun. In Galileo’s book, A Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, he published the results of his investigations, and his theory of the Earth’s revolution around the Sun to widespread antagonism from the Vatican.

The theologians of the Roman Catholic Church decided that Galileo’s new theory, discovered through the new use of optical telescopes, which put the sun at the centre of the Universe instead of the Earth, conflicted with the earth-centred ideas of Ptolemy. They used quotations from the Bible to justify this stance, for example in the book of Joshua, in God commanded the sun, and not the Earth, to stand still over the ancient Canaanite city of Gibeon.

Galileo publicly derided the Church’s view, and Pope Urban VIII, launched an inquisition of Galileo, summoning him to trial. The trial took several weeks and the guilty verdict and sentence was given on June 22 1633.

He was forced to renounce Copernicanism, and to read a statement, retracting his views and his work. He was also forbidden to teach his ideas and remained under house arrest for most of his life.

He was visited by the poet Milton in 1638 (just before my novel begins), and on his return to England, this is what Milton had to say:

‘this was it which had damped the glory of Italian wits; that nothing had been there written now these many years but flattery and fustian. There it was that I found and visited the famous Galileo grown old, a prisoner to the Inquisition, for thinking in Astronomy otherwise than the Franciscan and Dominican licencers thought.’

In ‘The Fortune Keeper’ Mia Caiozzi, the main character of the book, and based on a real person, was known as an astrologer. In the Renaissance period, astronomy and astrology were closely linked and overlapped, and were not separate studies as they are today. In Venice at the time there were many women who studied the stars and also gave astrological readings in St Mark’s Square.

Astrology was used widely in medicine and studied at the University of Padua as part of a physician’s training. But it was still dangerous to believe or promote the ideas of Galileo.

All About The Fortune Keeper

Count your nights by stars, not shadows ~ Italian Proverb

Winter in Renaissance Venice

Mia Caiozzi is determined to discover her destiny by studying the science of astronomy. But her stepmother Giulia forbids her to engage in this occupation, fearing it will lead her into danger. The ideas of Galileo are banned by the Inquisition, so Mia must study in secret.

Giulia's real name is Giulia Tofana, renowned for her poison Aqua Tofana, and she is in hiding from the Duke de Verdi's family who are intent on revenge for the death of their brother. Giulia insists Mia should live quietly out of public view. If not, it could threaten them all. But Mia doesn't understand this, and rebels against Giulia, determined to go her own way.

When the two secret lives collide, it has far-reaching and fatal consequences that will change Mia's life forever.

Set amongst opulent palazzos and shimmering canals, The Fortune Keeper is the third novel of adventure and romance based on the life and legend of Giulia Tofana, the famous poisoner.

'Her characters are so real they linger in the mind long after the book is back on the shelf' - Historical Novel Society-

*This is the third in a series but can stand alone as it features a new protagonist. Other two books are available if reviewers want them.

All About Deborah

Deborah Swift is a USA TODAY bestselling author who is passionate about the past. Deborah used to be a costume designer for the BBC, before becoming a writer. Now she lives in an old English school house in a village full of 17th Century houses, near the glorious Lake District. She divides her time between writing and teaching. After taking a Masters Degree in Creative Writing, she enjoys mentoring aspiring novelists and has an award-winning historical fiction blog at her website

Deborah loves to write about how extraordinary events in history have transformed the lives of ordinary people, and how the events of the past can live on in her books and still resonate today.

Recent books include The Poison Keeper, about the Renaissance poisoner Giulia Tofana, which was a winner of the Wishing Shelf Readers Award, and a Coffee Pot Book Club Gold Medal, and The Cipher Room set in WW2 and due for publication by Harper Collins next Spring.

Connect with Deborah


This book is available to read on Kindle Unlimited.

50 views2 comments


Dec 08, 2022

Thank you for hosting me Brook!


Dec 08, 2022

Thank you so much for hosting today's tour stop for The Fortune Keeper.

All the best,

Mary Anne

The Coffee Pot Book Club

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