Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini

Enchantress of Numbers

Jennifer Chiaverini

New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini unveils the passions and dreams of 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.

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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.


Advance Galley Reviews

Fantastic historical fiction novel! I loved every moment. I’m really looking forward to reading more from this author.

I liked the book but sometimes it was a little hard to read. The book started off as the mothers view but then changed to the daughters view. So that threw me off for a few minutes. It was an informative story and make me want to look up the people it was based off of. We See Lord Byron and his estranged wife and what happened to their relationship. Their daughter Ada we see as she is growing up is not allowed to use her imagination or show any traits that her father has. She looses many people she loves in life. Despite being a woman she was a well known mathematician and loved scientific stuff. We do see the challenges that she faced as a woman in that time frame. I received this book to read for free in exchange for a written review. I did not read it before the download expired. I had to borrow the book from the library to complete the review. The opinions in this review are 100% my own.

The best thing a historical novel about a real person can do is make you want to seek out biographies of the subject, and this book does just that. I knew Ada Lovelace is regarded as the mother of computer science and that her father was the poet Byron, but not much more. This book fills in some of the details through her own voice, and makes me want to read more about the real, historical Ada.

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.

This was an interesting book! I wasn't sure it was going to hold my attention as I am not a computer science person but Chiaverini did a wonderful job of keeping me engaged for the most part. It got a little strange later on, a baby narrating, so that was a little less enjoyable. Too weird for me, hard to follow. Overall I give this a 3.

This book was certainly not a favourite of mine by this author who does wonderful research for her historical fiction novels. This book is about Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, who was Lord Byron and his wife Annabella's only daughter. While Lord Byron may have been a "great" poet, he was clearly mentally ill, and a rascal. Annabella was smart as a whip, and an emotionally abusive mother. I found most of the story, as told by Ada, tedious and far too long. Ada was quite brilliant, and had a capacity to understand math and it's components with the best of them. As with many stories of this time period her gender meant that she was largely ignored. I understand the authors wish to write about little known women in history that never got the recognition they deserved, but Ada I thought was a stretch. Thanks to Penguin First To Read program for a copy prior to publishing for an honest review.

I enjoyed the first bit of the story about Byron and Annabella. Then, Ada takes over narration as a baby. For me, it became a difficult read from that point through to about page 100. It was nonsensical to follow an infant narrating her own story. Apparently, Ada has the mental acuity at age one and a half to reign in her imagination when she wonders why her father’s portrait was moved. She was also able to speak in full sentences before the age of two and had a coherent conversation with her mother. Then she started learning how to sew when she was two and a half. It is ridiculous to imagine such a child. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the rest of the book after Ada’s elementary years (about page 100). I think Chiaverini captures Ada as an older child well. “I could not expect anyone else to understand why I argued about what were to them the merest trifles but were to me equivalent to the loss of a kingdom” (pg 133). I remember feeling something like this when I was young and felt the need to argue about “trifles.” However, my heart did break for Ada because her mother was a selfish and unsympathetic person. Ada’s loneliness haunts me still. I think Chiaverini did a great job describing the machines and Ada’s earnestness in explaining the usefulness of the Difference Machine to society in the published notes. In this well-balanced account of a complicated undertaking, Chiaverini gave us enough information without leaving questions unanswered and without losing the audience. There were a few editing errors, such as “twenty-files miles per hour” on page 367. That being said and shared, I enjoyed the majority of this novel and would read Jennifer Chiaverini again.

I found this one intriguing. I had heard of Ada Lovelace as the founder of computer science but I confess that I knew so little else that I had not clue she was also Lord Byron's daughter. I have historical fiction, so I was of course excited to learn more about such an important woman. I enjoyed getting inside her head and appreciated that Chiaverini made her a well-rounded character with flaws and struggles. It was hard to digest Lady Byron's character sometimes and her focus on imagination as a corrupting and even immoral force. I did not always understand why Ada was so fascinated with Mr. Babbage's work but I appreciated her passion and her brilliant mind. I enjoyed the portion of the book after Ada was married more, when she was really about to flourish and not pinned down by her mother and the spinsters. Some of the points of her childhood were a little slow moving but it eventually picked up. The exploration of Ada's relationship to her absent but genius father and how is changes over the course of her life was a piece that I particularly enjoyed.

Thank you to First To Read for the digital copy of Enchantress of Numbers. I absolutely love how Jennifer Chiaverini is bringing all of these forgotten or never known historically stories about pioneering women to life. This one centers around the one legitimate daughter of Lord Bryon the poet, Ada Lovelace. She has been credited with being the first computer programmer. I found her upbringing by her very protective and quite bizarre Mother to be the part of the story I was so drawn to. Knowing nothing about Lord Bryon or his daughter, I learned a lot about both of them. All in all a very good read.

Thank you to First To Read for a digital edition of this book. I enjoyed this historical fictionalization of the life of Ada Byron King, the daughter of poet Lord Byron. Her mother left Lord Byron and Ada never met him. Because of her father's rash behavior and notoriety, her mother raised her with a strict education and discouraged her imagination. Once Ada grew up she met scientists and mathematicians and had a part in the development of the first rudimentary calculator. Ada did struggle for her own achievements in a time when intelligent women were suppressed and overlooked.

Captivating story from start to finish. Jennifer's writing style is superb! I highly recommend this book if you love timepieces.

What a wonderful holiday read! I enjoyed this book so much and appreciate the advanced copy.

I'm really confused about why we spend a forty-page prologue building sympathy for Lady Byron, an intelligent and upstanding young woman who gets duped into marriage with a monster, only to start treating HER like the monster and Byron like some sort of wounded pariah once we switch to her daughter Ada's point of view. I'm all for complicated multifaceted characters, but the abrupt change in the way Annabella is characterized just makes me dislike Ada as a narrator. The narrative style also has a hard time transcending the "book report" tone - the book felt less like a novel to me and more like a book of historical nonfiction told from the first person point of view. The info dumps seem like information for information's sake, not to build suspense or drama.

This book is well researched and factual, but I struggled to finish it. It seemed a lot longer than it needed to be with less information about Ada's genius and work than the struggles of her personal life. Although I did learn a lot about this important woman in history that I'd never heard of before, I just wish I'd enjoyed it a bit more along the way.

This volume is an interesting fictional work, told in the first person by Ada Lovelace, who is not fictional but the only legitimate daughter of Lord Byron. The introduction is very hard on Byron, perhaps justifiably. But when it changes to the first person narrative, it becomes a bit more readable. I’m not sure whether the point of the whole book was to lift up the genius of Ada Lovelace or put down the genius of Lord Byron. One thing I found confusing was the chart of relationships at the beginning of the book. Despite these reservations I have no doubt this fictional autobiography will find its audience. Among them will be those with an interest in the history of computing. I think it is somewhat of a departure of Jennifer Chiaverini but for the most part I think it works to keep the attention of the reader.

This was about 300 pages too long in my opinion. It was just a chronological description of Ada's life beginning with her parents courtship and wedding and ending with her death. There were also some extraneous facts about science and life in England thrown in every now and then. The novel had very little plot and the major climax of the story (at least I think it was the major climax) didn't even start setting up until you got to about page 300. It was definitely interesting reading about how differently women were viewed in the 19th century but that's all I can say I enjoyed about the first 2/3s of the book. Ada's struggle to find her place as a woman in science and the struggles to be taken seriously were the most interesting section. But you have to read about her childhood, adolescence, struggles to find a husband, trials with her mother before you get to that. Unless you're just really interested in Ada Lovelace, you can probably pass on this.

Ada Byron King-Noel, Countess of Lovelace, was the only legitimate child of the poet Lord George Gordon Byron. She did not get to know her famous father as her mother left him when Ada was only a few weeks old, and Byron soon left England due to scandals and debts. Ada’s mother, Annabella Milbanke, was a mathematician and was determined that her daughter would not succumb to her “bad Byron blood”. Ada proved to be adept in mathematics and was encouraged to study it, but never too intensely. It was felt that if Ada threw herself completely into one pursuit that her Byron blood would lead her down a dark path. Ada’s mother always seemed to be suffering from one malady or another and had to be separated from her daughter in order to find a cure for what currently ailed her. Ada had a string of nannies and governesses that were dismissed as soon has her mother detected Ada having any affection for them. Her mother also had single lady friends who Ada dubbed “The Furies” who constantly nagged Ada and said she was an ungrateful child. Marriage to William King-Noel gave her more freedom to follow her passion for mathematics and gave her a little space from her mother. The book was written in an old-fashioned manner where ten words were used when five would have been more than sufficient. Despite this, I found I was engrossed in the book. I was thrilled every time Ada rebelled even just a little against her mother and “The Furies”. I had hoped her marriage would put a bigger separation between Ada and her mother. I wished her contemporaries had encouraged her to write more regarding mathematics, but her sex and social position seemed to get in the way. If only Ada had been born 100 years later, mankind probably would have gotten to the moon even sooner.

This was a beautifully written, highly detailed, fictionalized account of the life of Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, credited by many as the first to write a computer program. Kudos to the author on her detailed research into the life of Ada and the diligence with which she laid out Ada's life for us.

I had difficulty liking this book for several reasons. Writing from the first person perspective made the extraordinary woman that this book is about seem spoiled and petulant particularly when discussing her childhood. Despite her negativity when talking about her mother, it is a credit to her mother that she indulged her daughter’s whims as much as she did, even while attempting to limit expressions of her imagination. It was interesting to observe how women with aptitude for particular studies were dealt with or managed by men of the time. At times the extensive research done for this book seemed to be included only to record the history and not to directly enhance the story being woven about her life. Given her obvious level of intelligence and interests in many areas, and her mother’s wealth, I was surprised to note how lacking she was in social graces at a young age. I’m not certain whether she was noted to have any mental illness but there seem to be several references to suggest that her behaviors were not entirely appropriate during her childhood and early adult life. This seemed to be an exhaustive fictional biography about a woman with few lasting achievements, but much enthusiasm for furthering science or mathematics.

The story of Ada Byron King, countess of Lovelace, is told in the fictionalized retelling in Jennifer Chiaverini's book, Enchantress of Numbers. Ada is the legitimate daughter of the romantic poet Lord Byron who was sort of the bad boy rock star of his time. His lifestyle left much to be desired and so his daughter was brought up strictly to avoid his downfalls. Ada was analytical and educated in mathematics which led to her introduction to Charles Babbage whose Difference Engine was the forerunner of the computers we know today. Also mentioned are personages such as Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin and Michael Faraday. Of course because she is a woman in the mid 1800s what she could accomplish was limited. I found this book interesting for a number of reasons. It is an interesting telling of life of an educated woman in the 1800s. It is full of details concerning the development of Babbage's Difference Engine. There is the insight into the circle of acquaintances that Ada found herself among and also the scandalous life of her father and other members of her father's family. To be honest, I am not a huge fan of fictionalized versions of history and usually do not enjoy books written in the first person (which this book was). I found the first person telling of the story awkward, especially when Ada was a young child.

Though well researched, and well-written, this book fell flat for me. First, it spent an awful lot of time on Ada's parents failed marriage, but the rest of it was simply tone. For a pioneer, a woman who rebelled against the constraints against her gender to aspire to mathematics a lot of people couldn't even wrap their brains around... she seemed sad and dull. A lot of her life was restrained, and there was plenty of sadness, but the whole story lacked that zing that makes it engaging. I learned some new information here and there, but had to work to get through the pages to find those facts. And the prologue, though factual, was just tragic, and not a good end.

Jennifer Chiaverini has a history of writing about strong, although somewhat obscure women and her newest novel is no exception. Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace, is a complicated intellectual woman. Her father is Lord Byron and although that could be her claim to fame, she tries to hide the relationship as much as possible. Ada is extremely knowledgeable and well-read in mathematics and the sciences. Her mother and then later her husband encouraged her to further her education as much as possible to tame the “wild” Byron blood. She became as renowned in her field as a woman could in her time and can be considered the first programmer of a computer. As always, Ms. Chiaverini does an outstanding job of capturing the true essence of the countess. Ada’s parents were estranged from the time she was a tiny infant so she has no recollection of her father, other than what was told to her by her mother, who had a great animosity for him. All her life she battles the perceived evil that her extremely dominant mother drills into her head because of her father’s unconventional lifestyle. Although her mother is wealthy, Ada’s childhood is spent mainly with nurses and spinster friends of her mother who stifle any tendencies towards imagination. All these factors, combined with her natural inclination for mathematics, helped shape her into one of the great mathematical geniuses of the time. I enjoyed this book for once again, bringing to light an obscure female figure from history that has been overlooked. It is packed full of many interesting details and situations that bring Ada to life. It can be enjoyed by teens to adults and makes an excellent book to read for those that enjoyed Jennifer Chiaverini’s previous novels.

Enchantress of Numbers is a fictional retelling of Ada Lovelace's life, who is credited as being the first computer programmer, and the struggles of being an educated woman in the time of Victorian England. The novel starts with the courtship of Ada's parents and their tumultuous end and progresses into her stiff upbringing and beginnings of her education. The story follows along her life of illness, her introduction to Society and her relationships with the other scholars and inventors of the time. This was an excellent rendition of the Countess of Lovelace's life and the only fault I had was that it could be really slow at times. Overall I enjoyed my first novel by Jennifer Chiaverini and highly recommend to anyone who would be more interested in Ada Lovelace.

As always, Chiaverini presents an engaging, historically-detailed novel. Readers will gain an understanding not only of Ada Lovelace, but also her mother (Annabella Milbanke Byron) and scientifically-minded friends as well as many aspects of her father (George Gordon, Lord Byron). The descriptions of Charles Babbage's Difference Engine and Analytical Engine which Ada was enthralled with are accessible to all readers, though I would have enjoyed a bit more detail about them. I cannot help but to pity Lovelace due to her controlling mother, though the same woman was also the one that encourage her intellectual growth. Unlike the previous autobiographical novels by Chiaverini I have read, this one covers Lovelace’s entire life, not just a portion. This helped to create greater sympathy and understanding of this often overlooked person. Outside of the main focus, Chiaverini did an excellent job providing historical context, working in the government changes and actions throughout as well as the events that occurred abroad before her father’s death. The former is not easy, as British politics are nothing like American. All in all, another excellent work.

A bit of an unrealistic narration by a toddler made me wonder how this book will continue. Enchantress of Numbers is about the life of Augusta Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, mainly referred to as Ada. The book starts off with the story of her parents Lord Byron and Annabella. Through out the novel, we see a variety of relationships develop and evolve, with the most peculiar being: Lord Byron and Annabella Lord Byron and his cousin Augusta Ada and her mother Annabella Ada and her father Lord Byron. The reader is transported to the point of view of the child when she talks about her parents, and we can only hope that this was the true story since Ada's relationship with her father is a difficult and pretty much nonexistent. Basing her knowledge off of other people and the poems/books her father wrote, Ada is trying to find herself in the ever changing world.

At times the pace was a bit slow for me, but overall I liked Enchantress of Numbers. I really loved Ada as a character and how she came off as a bit of a rebel (for the time period). I would have loved to hear more about Ada's accomplishments and less about the struggles she had with her mom. I would recommend this simply to learn about Ada - I have become interested in her and would love to know more about her accomplishments.

I totally missed the deadline for this review, but still wanted to share my thoughts. So sorry First to Read!! I really enjoy stories that show the woman behind a famous historical male figure. So, right off the bat this book was my jam. I thought the book was well researched, especially being a historical couple that aren't really that well known. I do wish we had seen more of Ada's accomplishments in the science and technology fields ALONG with what we saw of her as mother, wife, and lady of the house. While those things are interesting, especially to a common American, with a title "The Enchantress of Numbers" I really expected more of that side of her story. However, Chiaverini is wonderful at what she does and this story definitely weaves a beautiful picture and captivates the reader to keep going even as the beginning plods along a bit. 3.5 stars for fans of historical fiction!

Enchantress of Numbers is historical fiction relating the life of Ada Byron King, daughter of the poet, Lord Byron, and his wife Annabella. Annabella and Lord Byron were separated soon after Ada's birth and she grew up heavily influenced by her mother's desire to ensure she did not suffer the consequences of her "bad Byron blood". To achieve this fantasy, imagination, make believe, and poetry were forbidden through her childhood. Added to the dysfunction are the ever changing nurses, governesses, and tutors charged with Ada's care while her mother travels. Ada fortunately does possess a keen mind and her penchant for learning, especially mathematics and science, is encouraged, highly unusual for the Georgian era! Ada is considered the mother of computer coding and the tale of her interest in and assistance to George Babbage in the creation of his Difference Engine and Analytical Engine explains why. Ada is a fascinating woman and her story held my interest. Under normal circumstances this is a book I'd devour quickly; however, my schedule forced me to read the book slowly which enabled me to savor each chapter. I highly recommend this historical fiction work for anyone interested in the accomplishments of women throughout history.

This is a tough one to rate/review. I very much enjoy historical fiction--especially when it's well written. That it is. Kudos to the author for her extensive research. And, Chiaverini's use of language to depict the time--excellent! Certainly I was familiar with Lord Byron, but not his daughter, later known as Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, here the eponymous Enchantress of Numbers. Hers is a very interesting story. Ada is caught between her parents [married only briefly due to "The Separation"--most particularly her domineering mother, Anabelle and her demands, strictures, and confinement. And grandparents. And governesses and tutors. Ultimately, it is a story of Ada's desire for her own life--particularly her interest in science and mathematics and how she was later able to use her brain to work with and try to forward funding and acceptance of Babbage's Analytical Machine [waaay too much detail and pages devoted to this]. Parts I quite enjoyed: Ada's early life and romances. Dealing with governesses and tutors. Flyology. Phrenology. Her struggles with her mother--using her brain to try to outwit her and offer correct responses in their correspondence--since they were apart most of the time. I plowed through about two-thirds of this book. Fascinating. Then I got bogged down in the repetition. And towards the end I thought it rushed too much to put it to rest. That she died at only 36! Seemed like a much longer life--maybe because it often moved slowly.

This is a fascinating novel about an equally fascinating woman whom I was unfamiliar with until now. A gifted woman who had the misfortune to be born at a time when women where looked down upon, Ada Lovelace also was raised in a somewhat strict and dysfunctional family. Her father was the famous poet, Lord Byron who had serious mental issues and was abusive. (Didn`t know this until now either!) As an adult, Ada uses her mathematical genius to assist inventor, Charles Babbage, in creating calculating machines. The book seemed well-researched and the cover is gorgeous! I would definitely recommend it to those who enjoy historical novels.

Enchantress of Numbers is a Historical Fiction that was both hard to like at times and likable at others.I enjoyed the historical part about her perserverance and her love of math, other studies and her contributions but I detested the abuse she had to endure at the neglectful hands of her mother and her mother's horrid friends that did all they could to make a young girls life as miserable as possible all because of her "bad Byron blood". It was hard to get through this book with all of that. I admire her ability to rise above it but hated that even at the end of her life her mother was still controlling and dreadful to her. I do recommend people to look up her life and achievements but I would not recommend the book.

This was a well written and richly researched fictional biography. Ada Lovelace was an interesting person. I had difficulty with her story until she was older. I felt there were times too much attention was paid to every argument she had with her mother. The prologue also felt a smidge long. I would advise my friends that are into computers, and that enjoy historical fiction to take a stab at this one.

History has forgotten so many women, and author Jennifer Chiaverini brings them back to life. In her newest work of historical fiction she presents the life of Ada Byron King, daughter of the poet Byron, a woman now considered the mother of computer coding. ENCHANTRESS OF NUMBERS is well researched, and the nuggets of information that pop up in the narrative are never intrusive. Ms. Chiaverini paints a subtle picture of life at the end of the Georgian Era when Ada, daughter of a peer, was being raised by a mother who wished to create a rational, non-imaginative child. Readers might be a bit skeptical about the early chapters, where Ada relates her infancy as if she was recalling incidents, but read on and the clunky opening fades away as the heart of the story is revealed. Through a difficult and most un-ordinary childhood, a woman with a penchant for complex mathematics arises, and much of the middle section revolves around her efforts to pursue advanced studies while the world expects her to take her rightful place as wife and mother. A woman's mind was considered a delicate vessel in those days, and too much study was thought to be physically debilitating. It is just one of many issues that Ada had to beat back with guile and clever turns of phrases to reach her goals. Ada struggles, she perseveres, and in the end she trimphs, although you might have a feeling that her marriage was not so happy as the author depicts it. This is fiction, however, and Ada faces more than enough difficulties to drive the narrative to a positive conclusion. The opening chapters that cover her mother's miserable union with Lord Byron are more than enough dysfunction for one book. You will most likely have an urge to study Byron's poetry after reading ENCHANTRESS OF NUMBERS, to see Ada through her father's eyes and gain a little insight into his view of his failed marriage and the mother of his only legitimate child. The novel focuses largely on Ada's mother's images, and her determination to keep Ada from every becoming like her father. Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this one.

I really enjoyed this book. At first I didn’t think I was going to because Ada’s narration when she was just a baby and a very toddler was unrealistic, even with the caveat that these memories could just be what others told her. However, once I moved past this issue, it was a very detailed recounting if Ada’s life. It flowed naturally and was very interesting. I recommend this book.

This book gives a good fictional introduction to one of the major computing pioneers, Ada Lovelace. The story also bridges some of the gaps between Hanoverian England's scientific views to the Victorian Era views. It has also inspired me to learn more about Ada's life and how she had to fight for her independence and right to study what she loved. Which was Mathematics. For me the most important part of the story was Ada's perseverance to keep studying and pursue her passions even though many people around her tried to control everything she did.

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.

I really wanted to like this book, however the sheer repetitiveness really got to me. I think there was a lot of good history represented, but it was overshadowed by the constant berating of Lady Byron by her daughter Ada. I finished the book hoping for resolution, but sadly it was a waste of time.

I tried so hard to keep reading this book. I was not able to stay with it. If this was a true representation of Lord Byron's personality, the man was a royal jerk.

An overly long prologue to this book tells the story of the courtship and brief unhappy marriage of Lord Byron and his wife Annabella that resulted in the birth of one child, Augusta Ada later known as Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace. I had never heard of Ada, but some have credited her with being the first computer programmer. That is probably an overstatement. I was expecting more about the life of a scientist or a glimpse into her creative process but there is almost none of that in this book. Not until the end of the book do we see Ada actually performing any scientific work. The emphasis was definitely on her childhood and then on her duties as wife, mother and countess. We just have to take for granted the fact that she was a good mathematician. Since the author obviously has little interest in science, I had to look Ada up on Wikipedia to find out what she actually did. After the prologue, the rest of the book is written in the form of a memoir by the 35 year old Ada. I have a problem with books told from the pov of a child who has total recall of all conversations and events that occurred when she was a toddler. Unfortunately, it was a pretty uninteresting childhood. Ada's parents separated in 1816 (due to Lord Byron's bad behavior which led to a very complicated family situation) when she was an infant and she never saw her father again. Nevertheless he was a strong presence in her life due to her mother's efforts to turn her against her father and his friends and family. Annabella was both an aloof and controlling mother although she was mostly absent due to her charity work and visits to various spas seeking a cure for ailments that appear to have been imaginary. Ada's interests in mathematics and science were encouraged, so long as they did not become excessive. I wish that the book had begun at its half way point in 1833, when Ada met Mr. Charles Babbage who was a renowned mathematician and inventor. They became friends and she was fascinated by his inventions, the Difference Engine, a form of mechanical calculator, and the Analytical Engine, a very early computer, however he never managed to complete the building of either of these machines during his lifetime. It was Babbage who referred to Ada as the Enchantress of Numbers. Ada published her first scientific paper about the Analytical Engine and it was met with interest and acclaim until it was discovered that it had been written by a woman. "As soon as it became well known that the memoir had been written by a woman, it's perceived value as a scientific work precipitously declined. If a woman had written it, these men of science concluded, it could not be as important as they had first believed. The reasoning could not be as sound if it had come from the female mind, the subject not as significant if it had been been entrusted to feminine hands." I really wish that there had been more emphasis on science and less on governesses, coming out parties and illegitimate relatives. I would also have preferred that the book be 150 pages shorter. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Interesting historical fiction book. Characters portrayed as I am sure they were back then...men had all the rights, upper class ruled, servants were invisible. Thank you Ms Chiaverini for a good Read!

Enchantress of Numbers tells the life story of Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace. I am not overly familiar with the story of Ada, so it was enjoyable to read a book that incorporated historical facts with storytelling. I was disappointed that so much of the book was dedicated to her childhood and only a small part of the book seemed to focus on her relationship with Babbage and her interest in mathematics. Her contributions to advancing the promotion of Babbage's machine are only a minimal part of the book, and come late in the story. I'm sure much effort was put into accurately portraying historical figures as much as possible. With that said, her mother was detestable, and written from the perspective of an autobiography, the contradicting views that Ada has of her mother are confusing because they seem to change back and forth throughout the book. After reading this book by Chiaverini, I have much admiration from Ada Byron King. While it seemed that she had things working in her favor to pursue personal passions, she also still faced a lot of adversity in her childhood and in convincing people to take her ideas seriously. I appreciate Chiaverini's efforts to seek out a historical female figure and bring light to an intelligent woman who exceeded society's expectations and it's only sad that not only were her contributions underappreciated but that she didn't have a longer life to contribute to the advancement of science and mathematics.

I'm familiar with Jennifer Chiaverini's quilt series, but this is the first of her other novels that I've read. I was pleasantly surprised by this - the writing seems to be of the period and the character was very interesting. Overall, this reminded me of Paula McLain's work in that it focused on a singular woman of relative obscurity yet one whom is fascinating. It is a long book, and maybe a bit long in places, but nonetheless an enjoyable novel.

For a few years now, I have been fascinated by whatever I can learn about Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage. These two were closely connected in the development of what *could* have been the world's first computer...a hundred years ahead of time. Steam-powered. Wild, right?! I think so. Charles Babbage invented the machine--although he never completed the construction of it; Ada translated a paper about it and added so many of her own notes with calculations and algorithms that she is regarded by some as the first software programmer. They were an eccentric pair of friends, and I can't get enough of them. Enter this book. This is the fictionalized, but pretty accurate, account of Ada's life. It's fiction, but seems to exude careful attention to facts and history; so much so, that in many cases the dialogue was far too skimpy for my tastes. Because of this, the book seemed to ride a line between novel and memoir, not being strictly satisfying in either category. The exception to this is when Ada first sets eyes on Babbage's Difference Engine, and embarks on friendship with him. That scene is a delight to read, with a greater in-the-moment feel than the rest of the book. The book is written in the first person; however, it starts in Ada's first year of life and proceeds with extreme slowness. In my opinion, the first-person narrative is not suited to reminiscences of a baby and toddler. I was unable to suspend my disbelief and accept that she would have such detailed accounts of what those around her did, said, felt and thought. It was over the top. What the book does well is provide a cohesive account of Ada's life, which I only knew the highlights of. I think it could have been even better if it had condensed the accounts of her young years and focused on her late teens and adult life, especially where the Difference Engine and the Analytical Engine were concerned. I found the descriptions of the Difference and Analytical Engines fascinating, and the author handled with a light touch Ada's perception of what they could mean for the future.

I actually liked this book more than I expected to. I requested it on a whim because it sounded interesting, and I'm glad I did. I'll admit that I'm not very into science and mathematics, so I did end up skimming over some parts, but all in all this was a really enlightening narrative about a fascinating historical figure. I definitely enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who likes fictionalizations of real history.

Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini is a historical fiction look into the life of Ada Byron (Lovelace). I admit to knowing very little about her and was fascinated to learn more. that's why I requested this book However, I just never connected to the character(s) and felt the book was overlong and drawn out. The style of narration through the prologue and her childhood put me off. First seemingly from her mother's POV, but finishing up with 'me' being Ada. Ada's personality was unlikeable, as were the host of other people in this book. I just never felt engaged enough to care even though her life was fascinating. This wasn't a match for me at this time Thanks to Penguin Random House First to Read for the copy in exchange for an honest review

 


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