Enchantress of Numbers: A Novel of Ada Lovelace
Enchantress of Numbers: A Novel of Ada Lovelace  -     By: Jennifer Chiaverini
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Enchantress of Numbers: A Novel of Ada Lovelace

Dutton / 2017 / Hardcover

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Product Description

The only legitimate child of Lord Byron, Ada was destined for fame. But her mathematician mother is determined to save Ada from the curse of her estranged husband's heritage. Banning "make-believe," she gives her daughter a rigorous education in math and science. But when introduced to London society, Ada begins to discover her imagination's unquenchable fire. 

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 448
Vendor: Dutton
Publication Date: 2017
ISBN: 1101985208
ISBN-13: 9781101985205

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Publisher's Description

New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini illuminates the life of Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace—Lord Byron's daughter and the world's first computer progammer.
 
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. But her mathematician mother, estranged from Ada's infamous and destructively passionate father, is determined to save her only child from her perilous Byron heritage. Banishing fairy tales and make-believe from the nursery, Ada’s mother provides her daughter with a rigorous education grounded in mathematics and science. Any troubling spark of imagination—or worse yet, passion or poetry—is promptly extinguished. Or so her mother believes.
 
When Ada is introduced into London society as a highly eligible young heiress, she at last discovers the intellectual and social circles she has craved all her life. Little does she realize how her exciting new friendship with Charles Babbage—the brilliant, charming, and occasionally curmudgeonly inventor of an extraordinary machine, the Difference Engine—will define her destiny.

Enchantress of Numbers unveils the passions, dreams, and insatiable thirst for knowledge of a largely unheralded pioneer in computing—a young woman who stepped out of her father’s shadow to achieve her own laurels and champion the new technology that would shape the future.

Author Bio

Jennifer Chiaverini is the New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln's DressmakerFates and Traitors, and other acclaimed works of historical fiction, as well as the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series. She lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin.

Discussion Questions

1.       How do you think the loneliness and isolation of Ada’s childhood and her mother’s jealousy of the nurses Ada loves affect her as she grows into adolescence?
2.       What is it about flight that captivates Ada’s imagination? The scientific aspects of Flyology fascinate her, of course, but what else could Ada’s desire to create wings for herself represent?
3.       How does her status as the daughter of the renowned poet Lord Byron shape Ada’s life? What is it like growing up in the shadow of his brilliance and infamy? What similarities and differences do you see between Ada’s experiences and those of the children of celebrities today?
4.       Why do you think Ada’s mother was so fearful of Ada’s imagination and "the influence of [her] bad Byron blood?" Why does she forbid her daughter to indulge in fairy tales, poetry, and make-believe play, even though she herself writes poetry?
5.       The first time Ada visits Babbage’s home, she is introduced to his dancing automaton, which arrests her attention. She draws closer to it, "longing to trace the lines of the dancer’s face with my fingertip. Even her eyes seemed alive, full of mischief and imagination." Why was she so fascinated by the Silver Lady?
6.       After an argument with her mother, Ada muses, "I realized that the only way I could escape her control any sooner would be to marry." What are Ada’s expectations for marriage? Are they fulfilled? Does she enjoy more independence or less as a married woman, or are her circumstances essentially unchanged?
7.       Ada mentions that Mrs. Somerville, though very accomplished in science and mathematics, was barred from the Royal Society because she was a woman. How is Ada affected by this? Does she feel the loss of this exclusion? Why or why not?
8.       Why do you think Ada was so enthralled by Babbage’s inventions, both the Difference Engine and the Analytical Engine? How does Ada’s poetic and imaginative mind help her understand their potential even more so than Babbage himself?
9.       At various periods throughout her life, friends and family worry that Ada is dangerously obsessed with mathematics and science, often describing her pursuit of knowledge as a "mania." Ada fiercely rejects this label. Do you agree with Ada, or do you think her friends and family had some cause for concern? Why or why not?
10.   Compare and contrast Ada and Lord King’s courtship to her mother and Lord Byron’s and their early years of marriage.
11.   Ada’s love for her mother wavers between reverence and resentment. How does this affect Ada’s own childrearing?
12.   All her life, Ada has been told that her foremost duty is to marry and produce an heir. Why is this not enough for her? Why is she driven to create a "Great Work" of mathematics or science as her legacy?  

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Enchantress of Numbers

"[An] exquisite biographical novel...a quintessential example of the form...Wholeheartedly recommended for historical-fiction fans and STEM enthusiasts."—Booklist

"Cherished Reader, Should you come upon Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini...consider yourself quite fortunate indeed…Chiaverini makes a convincing case that Ada Byron King is a woman worth celebrating."—USA Today

"An enchanting story about one woman’s struggle for intellectual recognition and independence."—People Magazine, Book of the Week

"[A] fascinating homage."—Real Simple

"While Lovelace may not have received the credit she was due in her own time-period, Chiaverini’s novel stands as a fitting ode to one of the greatest women in the history of science."—Harper's Bazaar

"Chiaverini writes captivating stories of forgotten women in history, including that of the young math and science genius Ada Lovelace, responsible for writing the world’s first-ever computer code...Chiaverini brings [Ada Lovelace] to life around you...Emotionally evocative and rich in detail, this historical novel will keep you enthralled until the very end."—Bustle

"You’ll come away from this book wondering how many other pioneering women in science have been overlooked."—Bitch Media

[Enchantress of Numbers] is a fascinating look at how science and art do not stand at opposite ends of the spectrum, but rather—at their best—work together, and bring s toward a new, undreamed-of future."—Nylon

"Jennifer Chiaverini is a master of historical fiction, and her latest novel, Enchantress of Numbers, is no exception…You'll be glued to the page."—PopSugar

"Enchantress of Numbers tells the story of [Ada Lovelace’s] fascinating (and too-short) life. Historical fiction STEM is the literary genre we never knew we needed."—HelloGiggles

"This fascinating portrait of Lord Byron’s only legitimate child is not only a picture of a time and place, but of a woman struggling with her nature, passion and desire for learning. Chiaverini’s novel, with its straightforward prose, is both inspirational, touching and memorable."—RT Book Reviews

"[An] enthralling historical novel."—Paste

"Chiaverini once again shows her considerable skill breathing life into historical figures that are too little known." —Shelf Awareness

"Fascinating." —The National Examiner

Product Reviews

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  1. Joan
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    One of her best
    April 14, 2018
    Joan
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Jennifer Chiavernini hit it again. I had read all the other historical novels she wrote, and though each one better than the last. I am now watching the DVD of the second season of Victoria from PBS, and since reading this book, have more insight as to Albert's fascination with Lady Lovelace and her mentor. I had not known of Lord Byron's daughter before, and this book brought her to life, showing her as an intelligent and curious well rounded individual. Author does her research in depth.
  2. Debbie Wilder
    Salinas, CA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    An absolutely FANTASTIC historical novel!
    January 22, 2018
    Debbie Wilder
    Salinas, CA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    My attention was captured by two things when I chose to read this book. The first is the author. I have read some of her contemporary books and enjoyed them. The second was the phrase that Ada Lovelace was the world's first computer programmer. I have loved computers for many years. Right out of high school I joined the Air Force and became a computer operator.

    When the book began I had doubts as to whether I would like it or not. I'm not big on reading non-fiction and from the very beginning the style of writing clearly points to being written as an autobiography would be. Much to my surprise I was completely captivated by the story.

    I found myself drawn in by Ada and the heartache she bore throughout her life. I kept hoping and praying that good things would come and she would find happiness. There were joys and happy instances sprinkled here and there which were like bright rays of sunshine.

    I was fascinated to read about the friendships that she developed as an young woman. Their interactions were very compelling to read.

    As with most stories of actual historical figures we see much of the sinful nature and dark sides of individuals.

    I received a free eBook copy of this novel from the publisher and through NetGalley. I have chosen to write this review to express my personal opinion.

    Disclaimer: *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*
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