The Blind Contessa's New Machine

The Blind Contessa's New Machine

Book - 2010
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An iridescent jewel of a novel that proves love is the mother of invention

In the early 1800s, a young Italian contessa, Carolina Fantoni, realizes she is going blind shortly before she marries the town's most sought-after bachelor. Her parents don't believe her, nor does her fiancé. The only one who understands is the eccentric local inventor and her longtime companion, Turri. When her eyesight dims forever, Carolina can no longer see her beloved lake or the rich hues of her own dresses. But as darkness erases her world, she discovers one place she can still see-in her dreams. Carolina creates a vivid dreaming life, in which she can not only see, but also fly, exploring lands she had never known.

Desperate to communicate with Carolina, Turri invents a peculiar machine for her: the world's first typewriter. His gift ignites a passionate love affair that will change both of their lives forever.

Based on the true story of a nineteenth-century inventor and his innovative contraption, The Blind Contessa's New Machine is an enchanting confection of love and the triumph of the imagination.
Published: New York : Pamela Dorman Books/Viking, 2010.
ISBN: 9780670021895
Branch Call Number: F WAL
Characteristics: 207 p. ;,19 cm.


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Dec 10, 2015

Surprising and delightful. Really enjoyed reading this. You'd be hard pressed to not be enamoured by the descriptive account of the contessas real and imaginary world. Her coveted typewriter was only a small piece of a wonderful world of invention. Fun novel. Trendy cover illustration and dustjacket graphics.

m2 May 03, 2011

A brief evocative story about the onset of blindness -- and the invention of the typewriter. Sweet, sad, full of images in the mind's eye.
None of the characters is fully realized -- but the story is also about a first love and then a more mature love and the confusion that results. Perhaps blindness is not a bad metaphor for that experience.

A little gem of a book.

I needed to read a "Romance" for a University course and reluctantly pickup this one up. I didn't expect to enjoy anything from that genre, but this was a great little book.

More of a love story tied to history than a typical Romance, The Blind Contessa's New Machine is loosely based on the development of a precurser to the typewriter in 19th century Italy. Wallace's articulate writing gives us Carolina, the privileged 15-year-old daughter of an aristocratic lemon grower, Pietro, the much indulged heir to the neighboring estate and the older, brilliant, but socially awkward Turin, polymath and student of the world. The depth of characters and lush descriptions of era and environment draw the reader in.
Recently betrothed to Peitro, Carolina is appalled to find her eyesight fading as darkness creeps in from the periphery of her field of vision. Her reports of impending blindness are dismissed by everyone but Turin, who acknowledges her loss and helps to ease her transition from light to darkness through his friendship and the invention of a "writing machine". Traditional Romance readers may feel let down by the ending, more wistful than happy, but readers who appreciate tight prose, richly described historical settings and light romance will enjoy this charming debut novel.


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