Enchantress of Numbers
A Novel of Ada Lovelace
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The New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker illuminates the fascinating life of the world’s first computer programmer Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace—a woman whose exceptional contributions to science and technology have gone unsung for too long.
The only legitimate child of Lord Byron, the most brilliant, revered, and scandalous of the Romantic poets, Ada was destined for fame long before her birth. Estranged from Ada’s father, who was infamously “mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” Ada’s mathematician mother is determined to save her only child from her perilous Byron heritage. Banishing fairy tales and make-believe from the nursery, Ada’s mother provides her daughter with a rigorous education grounded in mathematics and science. Any troubling spark of imagination—or worse yet, passion or poetry—is promptly extinguished. Or so her mother believes.
When Ada is introduced into London society as a highly eligible young heiress, she at last discovers the intellectual and social circles she has craved all her life. Little does she realize that her delightful new friendship with inventor Charles Babbage—brilliant, charming, and occasionally curmudgeonly—will shape her destiny. Intrigued by the prototype of his first calculating machine, the Difference Engine, and enthralled by the plans for his even more advanced Analytical Engine, Ada resolves to help Babbage realize his extraordinary vision, unique in her understanding of how his invention could transform the world. All the while, she passionately studies mathematics—ignoring skeptics who consider it an unusual, even unhealthy pursuit for a woman—falls in love, discovers the shocking secrets behind her parents’ estrangement, and comes to terms with the unquenchable fire of her imagination.
In Enchantress of Numbers, New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini unveils the passions, dreams, and insatiable thirst for knowledge of a largely unheralded pioneer in computing—a young woman who stepped out of her father’s shadow to achieve her own laurels and champion the new technology that would shape the future.
I was not enchanted by Enchantress of Numbers
Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini is novel about the life of Ada Lovelace. Augusta Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, is the only child of Lord Byron and his wife, Annabella. Not long after Ada was born, Annabella left her husband (Lord Byron had mental problems) and returned to her parent’s home. Annabella does everything in her power to make sure the Byron blood does not destroy Ada’s life. Fairy tales, make believe, poetry, passion (for life, ideas) and imagination are banned while mathematics, science, and languages are stressed in Ada’s education regime. We follow Ada through her lonely childhood into adulthood with her overbearing mother and unorthodox education. While in London during her first season, Ada meets Charles Babbage. Ada is fascinated with Babbage’s Difference Engine and the plans he has for the Analytical Engine. Ada wants to do what she can to help Babbage realize his dream. She continues to study advanced mathematics, meets the love of her life, discovers the reason her parent’s marriage fell apart, and continues to pursue the development of Babbage’s inventions. Will Ada be able to assist Babbage in achieving his dream?
Enchantress of Numbers is well-researched and contains interesting information on Ada’s life (if you make it that far into the book). The writing reminded me of a boring textbook (very dry). I loved Jennifer Chiaverini’s The Elm Creek Quilts series which is well-written, has a good pace, and wonderful characters. Enchantress of Numbers did not feel like it was written by the same author. Part of the problem was the first-person narrative. The story is first told from Annabella’s perspective and then from Ada’s point-of-view. She shares her reminisces starting with infanthood (which is unbelievable). Can any person remember being a baby especially with such detail? It reminded me a diary where Ada tells us how her mother controls her life (never meets her father, told her blood is bad). Any time Ada gets close to a caretaker, they are fired. If she shows an interest in a subject (like making wings), it is discouraged. The characters came across as flat. They were not brought to life. Ada (as well as her mother) is an unlikeable protagonist. I find it difficult to read a book when I do not like the main character. The mathematics sections will put many readers (non-mathematicians) to sleep (great if you suffer from insomnia). They dragged on for pages. The book was too long (it seemed to go on forever) and it was overly detailed. Many times, I wanted to abandon my pursuit of completing this Enchantress of Numbers. There were a couple of interesting sections, but they were few and far between. I’m sorry, but I was not enchanted by Enchantress of Numbers.