Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini: A Book Review

Enchantress of Numbers: A Novel of Ada Lovelace
Author: Jennifer Chiaverini
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: 2017
Pages: 446
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini illuminates the life of Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace—Lord Byron's daughter and the world's first computer progammer.

     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.

    My Review: Enchantress of Numbers tells the story of Ada Lovelace. She was Lord Byron’s only legitimate daughter. She was known to be a mathematician and scientist. She is also credited as being the first computer programer. In this novel, Ada writes her memoirs that describe her relationships with her mother and father as well as her friendship with Charles Babbage. Thus, she is an accomplished woman in her own right.

   Ada is very sympathetic and relatable. She is very lonely. She does not have any friends. Her mother never lets her see or associate with her father. Oftentimes, her mother leaves her with governesses and goes on trips with her friends. Ada’s mother is also afraid that Ada will turn out to be an eccentric like her father. Therefore, her mother disapproves of her reading novels or using her imagination. Ada is forced to become a practical woman who invests her time with science and arithmetic. Because her father is famous, she wants to become famous in her own right. She wants to be a self-made woman. Thus, I thought that Ada was a well-rounded character. I could see how her relationships with both her mother and her father have played a big role in her accomplishments.

  Overall, this is a novel of ambition, family, love, and dreams. The novel was full of intriguing characters. There were a few flaws in this novel. I thought that it should have been written in third person rather than in first person. The fact that Ada could remember specific details when she was six months old seemed rather unbelievable. I also thought the novel suffered from too much telling than showing. The book also moved rather slowly. Nonetheless, I thought that the novel was meticulously researched, and the story was so compelling that it kept me reading more of what happens to Ada. Enchantress of Numbers has definitely sparked my interest in reading more about Lady Byron and Ada Lovelace. I recommend this novel for fans of Lord Byron and the English Romantic poets. It is a must read for fans of The Determined Heart, The World Within, and Mrs. Poe.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


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