Enchantress of numbers : a novel of Ada Lovelace / Jennifer Chiaverini.

Main Author: Chiaverini, Jennifer,
Published: New York, New York : Dutton, [2017]
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Review by Booklist Review

Known recently for her Civil War-era fiction, Chiaverini (Fates and Traitors, 2016) takes a transatlantic sojourn for this exquisite biographical novel. It's a quintessential example of the form, covering nearly her subject's entire life in an engaging, evenly paced style. Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, was a nineteenth-century English mathematician who is considered an ancestress of the digital age for creating a computing algorithm. Her narration uses an inviting, slightly formal tone that evokes the era. Much attention is given to Ada's youth, describing how her overprotective mother, Annabella, seeks to suppress the bad Byron blood Ada inherited from her notorious poet father by upholding logic and discipline while discouraging imaginative thought. As Ada matures and finds mentors in inventor Charles Babbage and mathematician Mary Somerville, her relationship with Annabella (a wonderfully complex character) is shown with nuance. In addition to the well-presented particularities of Ada's life, including many scenes of society gatherings and technological demonstrations, the novel provokes reflection on interpersonal connections and how they shape one's development. Wholeheartedly recommended for historical-fiction fans and STEM enthusiasts.--Johnson, Sarah Copyright 2017 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (Dec.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Review by Library Journal Review

The daughter of England's beloved celebrity, Romantic poet Lord Byron, Ada Byron is rigidly protected from anything that might possibly develop imaginative or poetical tendencies passed along to her through her father's tainted Byron blood. No one could have been more determined to keep her out of harm's way than her mother, who left the doomed poet a month after his daughter was born and took their lives into her own capable, if controlling hands. Surrounded by nursemaids and governesses, Ada, whose rebellious nature longs to escape, is permitted one refuge-her study of mathematics, but even in this she is closely monitored to make sure she is not carried away by her enthusiasms. Eventually, with the help of a loving husband, a brilliant female mentor, and a coterie of intellectual friends, Ada finally achieves her goals, going on to develop with Charles Babbage the first computer, though it took the world nearly a century to recognize her achievements. VERDICT After a slow start, Chiaverini (Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker) deftly draws a compelling study of a complicated woman whose relationship with her mother was equally complex. This will appeal to those interested in women in science and the dawn of the Victorian age. [See Prepub Alert, 7/26/17; "Editors' Fall Picks, LJ 9/1/17.]-Cynthia Johnson, formerly with Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, MA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.