Book Review: Enchantress of Numbers

34555334I have been a Jennifer Chiaverini fan for the past two years. I first read The Spy Mistress and I absolutely loved it! It was informative, but entertaining at the same time. When Enchantress of Numbers showed up on NetGalley, I unhesitantly requested it.

Enchantress of Numbers is a book about Augusta Ada Byron King, Lady Lovelace, the daughter of poet George Gordon, Lord Byron. We are giving the history between Ada’s parents and the Separation that happened soon after her birth. Ada never knew her father, but his shadow of fame and tainted character follows her well into adulthood.

Instead of poetry, Ada has a fascination with mathematics. She enjoys the subject, as well as the sciences. This grows into a desire to discover something and be known for her work in science. Ada surrounds herself with like-minded people, including Mr. Babbage, the inventor of both the Difference Engine and the Analytical Engine.

This book is pretty dense, it’s 421 pages long and it definitely felt like every single one of those pages. The beginning is only of Ada’s parents, I honestly thought the book would be about her mother. Honestly, the introduction could have been condensed into fewer pages but still communicate the estrangement between the two.

The rest of the novel is a kind memoir from Ada. I found most of it unbelievable. As a toddler, she remembers and processes so many things. It’s just not possible. These pages span for what seems like ages (I started this book in October and just finished at the end of February).

The rest of the novel when Ada is grown and has made be debut is a constant battle between her and her mother. Because Ada has ‘bad Byron blood,’ she is forced to have moral and character lessons, hidden away from view, and every aspect of her life guarded by her mother. It was exhausting. Ada seemed to be doing everything right and what was asked of her, but her mother (or her mother’s trusted friends) always found fault in her.

Honestly, the only interesting part of this book was the last 150-200 pages. It was all about Ada and her own household and children. And her work. I did a little research on her, and apparently she’s considered a pioneer of computer science. I saw a little bit of this in the last 30 pages, but that was it.

In my opinion the book was not a good representation of Ada Lovelace. I looked at Chiaverini’s other books and it appears this was her first Victorian set novel, so that might be part of it.

Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini receives 2 stars.


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