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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Nothing of the poetical must take root in her mind!

Enchantress of Numbers: A Novel of Ada Lovelace 
by Jennifer Chiaverini


Fascinating look into the life of Lord Byron's daughter, Ada Byron King, a gifted mathematician and visionary.
Rigorously guided by an overbearing, fearful mother who's one concern is that her daughter not have the contagion of excessive passion that her father did, it's no wonder Ada's brilliance found an outlet via reasoning and calculations. Her relationship with Charles Babbage and his Analytical Machine is that of a far seeing acolyte who comprehends the machine's wide ranging future possibilities and joins his fight for government funding and recognition.
Ada's mother's relationship with her daughter is mostly uncompromising, bordering on obsessively harsh at times and barely understandable at others. Lady Byron's fear that blood will tell and that her daughter will be as wicked as her father governs the way Ada is raised.
At times I felt weighted down and oppressed by Ada's upbringing, for Ada it obviously was so much more. It seems she just was never allowed to just 'be'.
Still I couldn't help but be intrigued by the upbringing this woman experienced, the way she had to carefully govern and restrain herself to gain what she desired. The way friends of her mother's surrounded and channeled Ada's energies. Not for nothing did Ada label these friends, The Three Furies.
Ada survived her childhood, eventually married and was able to pursue some of her dreams.
As Chiaverini says, 'It is an immeasurable loss to mathematics, computing, and poetical science that Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, never had the chance to discover the fullness of that energy and power.'
Chiaverini's fictional account, based on rigorous research bears this out, combining as it does biographical data to present a well rounded story. I found this an intriguing revelation of an unknown (to me) extraordinary woman.

A NetGalley ARC

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