Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Blind Contessa's New Machine by Carey Wallace

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

The Blind Contessa's New Machine by Carey Wallace. Penguin Group (USA), ©2010.  ISBN
9780670021895 (hardcover), 224p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Kaye said...

Without even reading your first sentence, I looked at the cover and thought Cee Cee H! This sounds like a good one. Thanks for the heads up!

have a great weekend, Lesa and happy reading.

Molly said...

This is the first I have heard of this debut novel, but it sounds like a good one.

I am glad to know about the Pamela Dorman Book imprint and I will keep my eyes peeled from now on. Their literary focus is my reading preference.

Mason Canyon said...

This sounds like a very moving book. I had never stopped to think about why the typewriter was invented or by who. Definitely adding this to my wish list.

Thoughts in Progress

Lesa said...

That's interesting, Kaye, that you saw the cover and thought about CeeCee. I hadn't seen the cover when the book came in. I requested it at the library because it was a Pamela Dorman book, and I wasn't disappointed.

Lesa said...


Yes, I think you'll have to watch for that imprint. I picked up another one yesterday called The Doctor & the Diva by Adrienne McDonnell. It's the same imprint, but I don't know how soon I'm going to get to it. It begins in 1905 when a young obstetrician specializes in helping couples conceive, and he's asked to help a young opera singer.

Lesa said...

Mason, I think you'll find it is a very moving book. I never thought about why the typewriter was invented, either. I did find it a tragic book, though, including the ending.

bermudaonion said...

Oh my gosh, I've got to get my hands on a copy of that book. It sounds wonderful!

Lesa said...

I picked mine up at the library, Kathy. Hopefully, your library will carry it.

Beth Hoffman said...

I absolutely must read this, and thank you for bringing it to my attention, Lesa.

I've had so much going on that I haven't read up on the releases of my fellow Viking/Penguin authors!

Have a lovely weekend, my friend.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Beth. You will want to read it, but, maybe now isn't exactly the right time. I'd be looking for something a little more upbeat if I were you.

Sending hugs, Beth.

Anonymous said...

I checked this book out from the library in CD format and was utterly captured by the writing style as well as the phenomenal reader. I anxiously await more works by this new author.