Like Beth Hoffman's Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, Carey Wallace's debut novel, The Blind Contessa's New Machine is a Pamela Dorman Book. Penguin has this to say about the Pamela Dorman Books imprint. "The imprint will focus on books of the kind Dorman has published throughout her career: fiction, especially debut fiction that is both well-written and accessible, novels of character that are propelled by strong storytelling and a rich emotional core. These are books that are aimed at an upmarket popular audience, both literate and commercial, the kinds of novels that reading groups adopt, that we hope readers treasure, and that will have long lives in trade paperback ahead of them." Once again, Dorman has selected a lyrical first novel, one that will break your heart. It's even sadder when you realize it is based on the true story of the woman who inspired the invention of the typewriter.
Around her eighteenth birthday, Contessa Carolina Fontini discovered she was going blind. Her parents didn't believe her. And her fiancé, Pietro, thought she was joking. Only the local inventor, Turri, a man ten years older than her, understands, and knows that she's watching her world become more limited and disappear. The two have shared a love of nature, and spent time at the lake house Carolina's father built for her mother, so Turri understands Carolina's loss. And, it truly is a loss as the young independent woman finds herself trapped in the house she marries into, followed by unknown footsteps, and locked in so she can't escape to the lake house. Her charming, charismatic husband can't understand the blind dreamer he married.
In her dreams, though, Carolina can still escape and see the world. The book vividly describes Carolina's imaginings, the colors and world she sees. But, it's Turri her gives her a gift that allows her to communicate again, a writing machine that becomes a curiosity to the townspeople, but is so much more to Carolina. It's a way to reach Turri and his love.
The Blind Contessa's New Machine is a tragedy of loss and yearning. Anyone who reads it has to feel Carolina's terrible loss, so great for a young woman who enjoyed her senses and nature. She's held captive by a man who loved the image of Contessa Carolina Fontini, but never understood her true nature. Wallace's debut is a lush, beautiful story of loss, and hope, and dreams.
Carey Wallace's website is http://www.careywallace.com/.
The Blind Contessa's New Machine by Carey Wallace. Penguin Group (USA), ©2010. ISBN
9780670021895 (hardcover), 224p.
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