Enchantress of Numbers

Enchantress of Numbers

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-believ...

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Title:Enchantress of Numbers
Author:Jennifer Chiaverini
Rating:

Enchantress of Numbers Reviews

  • Quirkyreader

    This was a good fictional account of Ada Lovelace's life. In the future I plan on reading more about her.

    There is not much else to say because the story speaks for its self.

  • Shomeret

    I knew Jennifer Chiaverini as the quilt novel author. She introduced me to the idea that quilts were signposts for the Underground Railroad in The Runaway Quilt which I loved. I knew that she'd been writing biographical novels of female historical figures, but I didn't sit up and take notice until it was Ada Lovelace in Enchantress of Numbers. I've always wanted to know more about her role in the development of the early precursors to computers. So I requested an ARC from Net Galley and was deli

    I knew Jennifer Chiaverini as the quilt novel author. She introduced me to the idea that quilts were signposts for the Underground Railroad in The Runaway Quilt which I loved. I knew that she'd been writing biographical novels of female historical figures, but I didn't sit up and take notice until it was Ada Lovelace in Enchantress of Numbers. I've always wanted to know more about her role in the development of the early precursors to computers. So I requested an ARC from Net Galley and was delighted when I was approved by the publisher. This is my review.

    We can't really know about Ada's contribution to Charles Babbage's conceptualization of his proto-computers the Difference Engine and the Analytic Engine. This is a topic that is fodder for speculation for historical novelists like Chiaverini. I made the same argument about Einstein and his first wife in my review of The Other Einstein here. I feel that it's just as legitimate to claim that Ada made a significant contribution as to claim that she made none, and that it was all Babbage's idea. I believe that Chiaverini is persuasive about what she attributes to Ada Lovelace.

    Ada's written notes are clearly attributable to her, and they show her to be a woman ahead of her time. The Enchantress of Numbers displays her context. She had influences, and sources of support which do not lessen her achievements. Isaac Newton is quoted as having said, "If I have seen further it is by standing on ye sholders of giants." Jennifer Chiaverini helps us to identify who Ada might have stood on. Yet every designer of a computer algorithm stands on Ada's shoulders because she created the very first such algorithm.

    For my complete review see

  • Faith

    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

    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.

  • MaryannC.Book Fiend

    2.5 Stars. While I thought this was a very informative and well researched book about Ada Lovelace this at times was tedious to read. I didn't know much beforehand about her life except that she was the daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron who was considered a womanizer and who had a possible scandalous relationship with his half-sister. This was an insightful look into a young woman whose life begun in a custody battle after her parents became estranged and who suffered life under an overprot

    2.5 Stars. While I thought this was a very informative and well researched book about Ada Lovelace this at times was tedious to read. I didn't know much beforehand about her life except that she was the daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron who was considered a womanizer and who had a possible scandalous relationship with his half-sister. This was an insightful look into a young woman whose life begun in a custody battle after her parents became estranged and who suffered life under an overprotective mother who feared she would inherit the dreaded Byron constitution of depravity and over indulgence. As she grew up Ada could scarcely test her wings and fly because her mother quashed every notion she had whether it was friendship and of course, love. I felt for Ada because she was never given the chance to develop a relationship with her father except for reading his poems and hear about the notoriety of his life, it was a wonder that she went to become a mathematical genius in her own right being regarded as the first computer programmer.

    Thank you to author Jennifer Chiaverini and NetGalley for providing a copy of this in exchange for my review.

  • Kate

    DNF

    That this book is a 'did-not-finish' makes me super sad. Jennifer Chaiverini has been one of my go-to authors for many years: she was one of the few 'mainstream' authors I could count on for a well-written novel (especially her historical portraits) that was clean. Unfortunately, with this novel, that is not the case.

    To my clean-reading friends, you probably want to skip this one as it contains a graphic intimate scene between the main character and one of her tutors. That was the point where

    DNF

    That this book is a 'did-not-finish' makes me super sad. Jennifer Chaiverini has been one of my go-to authors for many years: she was one of the few 'mainstream' authors I could count on for a well-written novel (especially her historical portraits) that was clean. Unfortunately, with this novel, that is not the case.

    To my clean-reading friends, you probably want to skip this one as it contains a graphic intimate scene between the main character and one of her tutors. That was the point where I said 'nope' and shut the book.

    I will try another book by this author simply because this is the first 'miss' I've ever seen from her work (and I've read all of her novels!).

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