Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Pamela Dorman Books. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.
Even with today's technological advances, the prospect of losing one's sight is frightening, but imagine what it must have been like 200 years ago. Carey Wallace's The Blind Contessa's New Machine takes us to Italy at the turn of the nineteenth century and the story of Contessa Carolina Fantoni, who inspired the invention of the first working typewriter.
Here's the publisher's summary:
In the early 1800s, a young Italian contessa, Carolina Fantoni, realizes she is going blind shortly before she marries the town's most sought-after bachelor. Her parents don't believe her, nor does her fiancé. The only one who understands is the eccentric local inventor and her longtime companion, Turri. When her eyesight dims forever, Carolina can no longer see her beloved lake or the rich hues of her own dresses. But as darkness erases her world, she discovers one place she can still see--in her dreams. Carolina creates a vivid dreaming life, in which she can not only see, but also fly, exploring lands she had never known.I found it almost impossible to browse through Wallace's novel; on almost every page, I was stopped by her captivating prose. From Carolina's attempts to tell her family of her diminishing sight to the horrible morning when opening her eyes brought no light, I was caught up in the story, wanting to know how she coped, how her husband would react, and what would happen when she was given her new machine.
Desperate to communicate with Carolina, Turri invents a peculiar machine for her: the world's first typewriter. His gift ignites a passionate love affair that will change both of their lives forever.
Based on the true story of a nineteenth-century inventor and his innovative contraption, The Blind Contessa's New Machine is an enchanting confection of love and the triumph of the imagination.
I wasn't the only one taken in by Wallace's style.
- Jenny from Take Me Away wrote: "This unique and compact story is full of such beautiful and lyrical prose that, if for no other reason, it should be savored for the writing alone. And Carey Wallace has such an enchanting style of storytelling with subtle humor . . . and alluring descriptions."
- Melanie from Lit*Chick said "It is a difficult thing to write so grandly yet with restraint, and there is a perfect balance here. Rarely have I been curious to listen to an audiobook, but it seems to me the words would be so full and glorious spoken aloud."
- Cate from Real Life with Kids noted "Describing the world of Carolina could easily be two dimensional and colorless. We are given such a feast of experience through words that it is easy to imagine ourselves looking out through Carolina’s unseeing eyes."
The Blind Contessa's New Machine was an Indie Next Pick for July 2010. For more on Carey Wallace, be sure to visit her website, where you can see some of the contessa's typed letters. If you pick this title up for a book club, be sure to visit the publisher's site for a reading group guide.
This book was featured as part of my Imprint Fridays feature and my Spotlight on Pamela Dorman Books. For more information about the imprint, please read Pamela Dorman's introductory letter, posted here on December 3, 2010.
These links lead to affiliate programs.