'The Blind Contessa's New Machine'
By Carey Wallace
Published: Pamela Dorman Books; July 2010
Synopsis: This charming and refreshingly modest debut hinges on a romantic triangle consisting of a blind contessa, her aristocratic husband, and an eccentric inventor. As Carolina Fantoni and Pietro prepare for their wedding in early 19th-century Italy, she tells her handsome, well-born fiancé that she is going blind. Like her family, he doesn't take her seriously, and only Turri, Carolina's friend and married neighbor, believes her. While Pietro engages in less than lofty pursuits, Turri and Carolina continue to meet on Carolina's father's property, and Carolina's creeping blindness inspires Turri to invent a machine she can use to write messages. His invention—a typewriter—sparks an affair that could have far-reaching consequences for them both.
My Take: When I got this book in the mail I was excited because finally I got to read a tiny book! I feel like I have been reading all of these massive books lately. While some of them have been good, they've taken up lots of time and sometimes it's nice to just escape for an afternoon into a nice, little story and let me tell you, this novel is just a wisp of a book in size, but in story, you will leave it feeling like nothing is left out!
Carolina is the blind Contessa of whom the story is named after. When the story opens she has her sight and is a young woman who is the daughter of a rich lemon farmer and his wife in Italy. She likes open spaces and time to herself but it is time to find a husband. Pietro is the catch of the valley in which they live. The fact that he chooses Carolina delights her at first but when she realizes that she is going blind she is unsure as to what to do. She turns to her friend Turri for advice. He tells her that her growing blindness will only get worse. This must have been so scary. To have to deal with a medical condition that had no pain yet also no cure. To not know how to get rid of it or why it was coming on. This poor woman was all alone in her fear of her coming blindness and just looking at her no one knew it was happening. She tells her family and fiance but they think it's just a joke.
Wallace does a great job in this slim novel of creating multifaceted characters. Pietro loves his wife but he can not understand her blindness. He has always been regarded as the most handsome man and now the woman he has chosen can not even see him! He doesn't know what to do with this. Their servants follow her around at night. Carolina can hear them but they refuse to respond when she calls out to them. Are they ghosts? Her main servant, Liza, is snotty to her and makes up lies when what Carolina really needs is someone to guide her. They never did give her a darn cane to help guide her around her home!
The only one who really understands Carolina is her friend Turri. Both Turri and Carolina are married to others though. Turri is an inventor and feels Carolina's pain when she tries to write him a letter so he invents a 'writing machine' - an early typewriter. The whole town is mystified by the invention!
To be loved by someone other than the one you are with is an age old story but this one does it well. You can easily read this book in an afternoon and get lost in old Italy. You will feel for Carolina and Turri's forbidden romance! And for that cover alone? Why wouldn't it be worth having it on your shelves!
(I got this book from Crazy Book Tours)