And Tomorrow the Stars points to the romance behind the history, the living quality that Hill is able to bring to the characters. Hill tries to avoid the outright invention of characters, although Fra Andrea is her invention as is Michieli Ferari, Cabot’s lifelong friend who accompanies him on all voyages and who helps him settle into Venetian life as a boy. Although fictional, the character of Michieli gives the book a sense of continuity that the other, less-fictionalized characters do not. Michieli is also a pupil of Fra Andrea, the Dominican friar whose acquaintance with maps and classical knowledge ground the young Cabot in a desire to find the unknown. Long fascinated by ships and the maritime life-style, the teenage Cabot fell into bad company as a smuggler for galleys entering the Venetian harbor with contraband.
The young Cabot met Sir William Thorne, a British nobleman and trader who became influential later in Cabot’s life. Perhaps the meeting is a little too coincidental, as the historical notes contain nothing about this early, crucial meeting that gave Cabot a base in England. Cabot’s skills as a navigator were given a boost when he was consigned by his uncle to serve as grommet aboard a trading vessel bound for the ports of Constantinople, Alexandria, and Barcelona. Later Cabot married Mattea, but he fell ill in 1480. As a prescription for his health, he was advised to take a sea voyage, traveling this time to Portugal, where he was dismayed to learn that Christopher Columbus had already persuaded the Spanish rulers that the world is round and that the Indies lie just across the western sea. Continuing on to England on this health cruise, he again met Thorne, whose brother Robert told Cabot of his plan to beat the Danish to the rich fishing grounds discovered near Greenland, the exact...
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And Tomorrow the Stars, while admittedly a highly fictionalized account of Cabot’s life, is an entertaining story in its own right. As she explains in the author’s note at the end of the book, Hill spent two summers traveling in Europe in order to create the sense of authenticity found in the book. The addition of “Historical Notes” shows Hill’s concern over the accuracy of the account in great detail—a reader knows exactly where Hill invented and where she reproduced actual, documented history.
Written under a research grant from the Canada Council and the winner of the 1969 Canadian Library Award, the book greatly benefits from Hill’s painstaking research into both the life of the explorer himself and the European climate in which the story takes place. Her ability to create characters that desire great things from life brings a uniquely personal quality to the history of exploration that has shaped the world. Young readers who are interested in geography and a sense of history will come away from the book with an enriched sense of how America was discovered—not by one man named Columbus but by a host of explorers both before and after him.