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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The New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker illuminates the fascinating life of the world’s first computer programmer Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace—a woman whose exceptional contributions to science and technology have gone unsung for too long.
 
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.
 
In Enchantress of NumbersNew York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini 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

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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