The New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker and Switchboard Soldiers illuminates the life of Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace—Lord Byron’s daughter and the world’s first computer programmer.
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. But her mathematician mother, estranged from Ada's infamous and destructively passionate father, 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 how her exciting new friendship with Charles Babbage—the brilliant, charming, and occasionally curmudgeonly inventor of an extraordinary machine, the Difference Engine—will define her destiny.
Enchantress of Numbers 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.
This intricate fictional memoir of Ada Lovelace, considered the first computer programmer, by Chiaverini (Fates and Traitors) combines biography with the style of a novel of manners. The novel opens with a lengthy prologue imagining the courtship and brief marriage of the rather odious George Gordon Lord Byron, the sixth Baron Byron, and the restrained Anne Isabella Milbanke, eleventh Baroness Wentworth. Shortly after the birth of their only child, Augusta Ada Byron, in 1815, the pair split and Byron left England, never to return or see his daughter again. Despite his absence, Ada credits the great poet with casting a shadow across her life, and her mother constantly searches for signs of Byron's mania in her. Though Ada's keen interest in mathematics is clear from almost the beginning, it is only her association with Charles Babbage that leads to her now-famous creation of the first ever computer program. Period fans will delight in the details of gowns, suitors, and rivals that fill the pages until Ada's rapid romance with and then marriage to William, Lord King, who will eventually become the first Earl of Lovelace. Chiaverini's novel is a wonderful blend of history and fiction, poetry and math.
An absolutely FANTASTIC historical novel!
My attention was captured by two things when I chose to read this book. The first is the author. I have read some of her contemporary books and enjoyed them. The second was the phrase that Ada Lovelace was the world’s first computer programmer. I have loved computers for many years. Right out of high school I joined the Air Force and became a computer operator.
When the book began I had doubts as to whether I would like it or not. I’m not big on reading non-fiction and from the very beginning the style of writing clearly points to being written as an autobiography would be. Much to my surprise I was completely captivated by the story.
I found myself drawn in by Ada and the heartache she bore throughout her life. I kept hoping and praying that good things would come and she would find happiness. There were joys and happy instances sprinkled here and there which were like bright rays of sunshine.
I was fascinated to read about the friendships that she developed as an young woman. Their interactions were very compelling to read.
As with most stories of actual historical figures we see much of the sinful nature and dark sides of individuals.
I received a free eBook copy of this novel from the publisher and through NetGalley. I have chosen to write this review to express my personal opinion.
Disclaimer: *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*
Enchantress of Numbers
Extremely disappointing. Will not purchase another, nut will gladly go back to books likeSonoma Rose! Give us more of these.
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.