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Enchantress of Numbers: A Novel of Ada…

Enchantress of Numbers: A Novel of Ada Lovelace

by Jennifer Chiaverini

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14110119,434 (3.38)6



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I love reading about Ada Lovelace, and this was a nice fictionalized account of her life that read really well. Jennifer Chiaverini has proven herself to be an expert writer, and this read should not disappoint her fans.

*eARC Netgalley* ( )
  Critterbee | Apr 16, 2018 |
This fictional account of Ada Lovelace's life exudes fact and passion, while blending it with a narrative that makes you feel as though you're in the novel with her. It was extremely well researched, and is written so that you feel as though you're inside her head. The lack of dialogue is troublesome, but not bothersome. At least for me, I was more fascinated by the detail and attention that was paid to really notice any or many flaws in the writing. The author has written the whole of Ms. Lovelace, though it is written as a novel, it could hold its own as an actual biography; very little is left out. It is interesting to see how she's portrayed Lord Byron as well, both as who he was and as Ada's father. There are many historical figures that get brought up, or stay at the periphery of this novel that you might think it was accidental, instead of purposeful. This novel is truly, a remarkable account of one of the most important and remarkable women in history. ( )
  BrainyHeroine | Mar 20, 2018 |
This fictionalized account of Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron and colleague of Charles Babbage (considered the father of the first computer), can be divided into three sections: 1) A story told in 3rd person about the courtship and disastrous marriage of Lord Byron and Lady Byron, 2) The beginning of a 1st person narrative by their only child, Ada, telling the story of her development from a child to young adult, including the difficult relationship with her mother, and 3) Ada's story of her marriage and work with Charles Babbage. Many reviewers have had trouble with Ada's early recollections, citing the fact that no child could have this superior of a memory, and I agree. This narrative style felt artificial, and so much time was spent on her relationship with her mother that it felt repetitive. The book really picks up when Charles Babbage enters the picture. Now I can understand the musings of a young woman, and why she was attracted to mathematics and his work. Despite these flaws, I'm glad to have read this book. Developing Ada's story as historical fiction helped me understand her work and life. ( )
  peggybr | Feb 16, 2018 |
This is a biographical novel about Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron and the woman many consider to be the first computer programmer. Ada died at age 36, so much of the book focuses on her childhood. That part of the story is set up by a prologue in third person, told from the viewpoint of Ada's mother, which helps explain why she (the mother) was such a control freak. Ada never met her father, as her parents separated shortly after she was born, and he left the country not long after that, dying when she was only eight. Ada's mother feared the "madness" of her father would manifest in her daughter, and thus forbade anything that smacked of poetry or other creativity. She did encourage the study of math and science, however.

The rest of the book is first-person Ada, and is rather unbelievable when Ada recalls her early childhood in minute (and impossible) detail. There are a few anachronisms as well, with references to Ada swimming in 1828 (page 118), when it was very uncommon for women in England, especially the upperclass, to swim, and to her use of an air mattress (page 128) in 1830, when it was not invented until 1889.

I think this book would have been much better if its 433 pages had run at least a hundred less. Jennifer Chiaverini does not devote much attention to Ada's mathematical pursuits, and her chronicling of Ada's illnesses and studies and frustrations with her mother's restrictions gets rather tiresome.

© Amanda Pape - 2018

[This print book was borrowed from and returned to my local public library.] ( )
1 vote riofriotex | Feb 9, 2018 |
This is the story of Lord Byron’s daughter, Augusta Ada Bryon, who never met her father but whose life was shaped by the reputation and actions of Lord Byron. Ada’s mother, Annabella, was married to Lord Byron only a short time and left him with her infant daughter when his actions were increasingly bizarre. Annabella believed that Byron’s active imagination caused his actions and was determined that her daughter Ada would be led by intellect and reason rather than by poetry and emotion.
Even though the family was quite wealthy, Ada’s upbringing was often cold, detached, and uncomfortable. Her mother would leave her with nannies, but if Ada became too attached to them, they would be fired and another one would appear. Ada was taught math and science at a very early age and showed incredible abilities in those areas.
The story takes Ada through childhood to her introduction into London society where she meets such as Charles Dickens and Charles Babbage, an inventor who has created which was in essence the first computer. Ada and Babbage enjoy a close friendship as he recognizes her outstanding abilities. However, the first priority for a woman of her class in England at the time is to produce an heir and Ada marries William, Lord of Lovelace. William is at times supportive of her learning and interest in math and at other times she finds herself bound by the demands of motherhood and her role as a wife to William.
Although I didn’t understand many of the math references, I still found this an interesting book and one that painted a clear picture of the struggles women have had attempting to fulfill their roles as mothers and at the same time pursue a career or interest. I can’t say that Ada was an especially likeable character, but her persistence is to be admired. There is much detail in the book up until the very last chapters where I feel the author just drew everything to a close. ( )
  maryreinert | Feb 3, 2018 |
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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.… (more)

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