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The Blind Contessa's New Machine

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  1,884 ratings  ·  465 reviews
An iridescent jewel of a novel that proves love is the mother of invention

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,
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Hardcover, 207 pages
Published July 8th 2010 by Pamela Dorman Books (first published July 1st 2010)
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Average rating 3.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,884 ratings  ·  465 reviews


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Richard Derus
Nov 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Rating: 4.75* of five

The Kindle edition of this gorgeous book is a lousy $4.99. There are hardcovers for 10¢ more. WHY ARE Y'ALL NOT READING THIS PERFECT GEM OF A READ?!?!

A good friend on LT reminded me of this wonderful little book that I loved reading a few years ago...a first novel, a small moment in history that shows the true meaning of love is, and always was, rising to meet the rough patches and working to make them smooth again.

http://tinyurl.com/l48e4bu

Magical, and historically accurate
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Iryna *Book and Sword*
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5/5

Wow this book is underrated. I found it in a corner of a used bookstore and just couldn't pass it up because of the cover of it. It's so unique and colorful and just so pretty.

“His small compliments and offhand remarks formed a new scripture, and in breathless conversations and lonely, dream-drunk nights they built whole theologies from them.”

I'm happy I dived right into this book without looking it up on Goodreads first (because sometimes that can definitely spoil the fun). I was surpri
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Chrissie
Jul 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
NO SPOILERS!!!

Through page 40: This is a love story – not just one love story, but actually several. A GR friend once remarked that I didn't like romance or that I rarely read love stories, and that is true. However I do enjoy love stories, but they must be magical as all real love is! The prose of this book is magical and enchanting, like a fairy tale for adults. See my quote from pages 36 and 37:

"Surprised, C looked at him."
"'You know that I love you,' he said."
"The words rang in her mind lik
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Cassy
Sep 06, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cassy by: Browsing at Brazos
I was drawn to this book by both the juxtaposition of the title and its petit size. The dimensions being smaller than a typical paperback and at a scant 207 pages, it was a breeze. And after reading several behemoth fantasy books this summer, it was an especially welcome breeze.

The basic frame of the story is true: the invention of the first working typewriter by Pellegrino Turri for his blind love, the Countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzono. The writing is lovely and the love story bittersweet
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Kim
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars
Laura
Feb 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommended to Laura by: Chrissie
I enjoyed the book overall. The writing was lovely, the main characters well-developed. However, I felt the characters at times acted in ways that stretched believability and I hated the ending. I'm glad I read it, as it was different, and interesting in that it portrays someone going blind, which I think it did well. Not sure I'd be reading more by her, though.
Jeannie Mancini
Jul 30, 2010 rated it liked it
CCarey Wallace's debut novel The Blind Contessa's New Machine, knocked my socks off.... until the last few pages. Starting at the beginning, beautiful young Carolina Fantoni is the daughter of a wealthy count, living lavishly in their Italian country villa. Carolina is loved by her family and pampered by her papa for her every whim. He builds her a fairytale cottage in the nearby woods, a cozy one room shelter to be her secret hideaway of escape when she wishes to lazily dream the days away surr ...more
Bettie
Mar 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Laura, Wanda, Dagny, Karen Legge, Joy, Susanna
Description: An iridescent jewel of a novel that proves love is the mother of invention
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 dres
...more
Felice
Aug 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Reading The Blind Contessa's New Machine began as a purely I-love-the-cover choice. Isn't that a lovely cover? I'm a bit of a sucker for floral patterns. They might not make me purchase a book but they will always make me pick one up to look at. As usual judging a book by it's cover worked out fine, my friend. So much for what your Mother tells you.

There is the kernel of a true story in Contessa. A kind of prehistoric typewriter was created in Italy in the early 1800's for a blind woman to use a
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Jill
Jul 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
For a book that focuses on a blind contessa, this is an extraordinarily visual novel. It’s filled with vivid descriptions: afternoon sun streaming through the scarves in windows, stars that flare into full suns or disappear altogether, bright flashes of bird wings, wicks blazing in chandeliers, colorful marzipan fashioned into the shape of lemons, grapes, apples, and roses, glorious dresses in rich hues of blue watered silk with scarlett ribbons.

The beauty of The Blind Contessa is that the young
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Annette
Based on the true story of the blind woman who inspired the invention of the typewriter in the 19th century Italy.

Carolina Fantoni is losing her sight. At the age of 18, it is already advancing, “the trouble with focus at the borders of her vision.” Her grandmother died blind.

At the age of 6, she met Turri who was 16. They have become friends since then. Now, Turri is the only person who truly hears Carolina when she says she’s going blind.

Turri comes from a family of inventors and from the earl
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Tara Chevrestt
I had no idea that the type writer was invented for a blind woman by a man who loved her till I found this novel.

This is a very simple, short read. Carolina realizes she is going blind just before she marries Pietro. Both her parents and Pietro just shrug off her concerns, but the inevitable happens and Carolina's world finally goes completely dark. Turri, her childhood friend and neighbor fancies himself an inventor. He is also very much in love with Carolina and after she has a disastrous att
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Bette
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ilana
★★★★½
Will review upon 2nd reading. Meanwhile, LT tags follow:
19th Century, 21st Century Literature, Fiction, American Literature, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Blindness, Dreams, Books, Fantasy, Lies, Relationships, Love, Romance, Marriage, Infidelity, Adultery, Inventions, Inventors, Typewriter, Italy, Debut Novel, Rec'd by jnwelch, Rec'd by Chatterbox, Rec'd by cameling, New, Purchased from BookDepository, Acquired in 2011, Picked by luvamystery65, Picked for Me 2015, Read in 2015, Co
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Menna van Praag
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
A beautiful little book. Not a word wasted. Compelling story & true - I think. I loved it. ...more
Jenny
Jun 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
I'd like to set the tone for this review by quoting the (perfect) first paragraph of this book which immediately hooked me for it's beauty and its appeal. (You can read the entire first page at the author's website as well).

"On the day Contess Carolina Fantoni was married, only one other living person knew that she was going blind, and he was not her groom. This was not because she had failed to warn them. 'I am going blind,' she had blurted to her mother, in the welcome dimness of the family co
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Louise
This is a fictional treatment how of Pelligrino Turri may have come to invent a prototype of what eventually became the typewriter. Because his invention was designed to assist the blind, the author imagines a blind Contessa with whom this 1800's man of science fell in love.

Carey Wallace deserves credit for bringing attention to this breakthrough invention. There is some very good prose here. Particularly good writing is how the author describes how the Contessa, Carolina, loses her sight, how s
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AM
Aug 17, 2010 rated it liked it
I loved this book and hated it all at the same time. It is a beautiful confession written in such a way that that you feel as if you are watching the whole story through a snow globe. That distance combined with Wallace’s wonderful way with words give this slim volume the enchantment of a fairy tale. There is a surreal feel to the characters that could only exist in such story, at once beloved but unattainable. The Blind Contessa’s New Machine is the story of a young woman who is going blind. Th ...more
Kathleen Dixon
Nov 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kathleen by: Darkpool
The prose in this sad little novel is quite beautiful. And it seems to me that the author has given an amazing insight into a person's feelings on becoming blind. Especially, of course, the feelings of a rich and well-educated young woman at the beginning of the 19th century.

Based on fact - that Pellegrino Turri invented the (first working) typewriter for his friend the Contessa Carolina Fantoni, who was going blind - this novel is a love story and a story of coping with powerlessness and fear.
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Cydnie
Aug 11, 2010 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kerri Anne
Jun 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
Oof, this book. So much potential! So much promise! It's a debut novel, and I want to tell you it's an impressive debut, because it really is SO beautiful in so many places. But it's terrifyingly incomplete in others. Namely, the ending. And it fails in huge places long before then, like in telling a complete story AND providing the main protagonist we're supposed to care about (We are supposed to care, right? Otherwise, what are we doing here?) with some self-worth and more than one sad dimensi ...more
Doriana Bisegna
Dec 22, 2012 rated it liked it
This book's beautiful cover and it's tiny hardcover format made it irresistible....oh yeah and the story sounded delightful! It always surprises me when a debut novel is this wonderful and beautifully written. I wish that I had read it faster in order to have given the story the ability to lure me in but it didn't. It was a wonderful love triangle tale but I was hoping for many more dramatic moments and the author opted for a quiet, sensual telling of this blind contessa's forbidden love for the ...more
Erica
Dec 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'd say this was a 4.5* read for me. Loved the author's evocative writing style - she was really convincing as well, you could tell from the writing that the Blind Contessa's hearing and smell were heightened after having lost her sight. I thought each character's voice was clear and distinct. Just a great read all round. The only reason I didn't give it 5* was that I would've like a bit more detail about how the new machine came about, how it was created, the thought processes behind it etc. - ...more
Elizabeth
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love everything about this book: the characters that come to life, the elegant descriptions, the vibrant setting, the beautiful cover illustration and even the petite size of the book. This book grabbed my attention with the first sentence and I enjoyed reading it so much that I limited myself to reading it in short bursts. It's definitely a treasure chest worth opening!
Abigail Ng
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5
Prose was more enjoyable than the plot
Meagan
Sep 06, 2010 rated it liked it
It's fun fact time! Apparently, the very first working typewriter was created in the early 1800's by an Italian inventor, Pellegrino Turri, for his blind friend Countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzono. Because she was blind, she could no longer use ink, pen and paper, but the typewriter solved her issues communicating with friends and family.

This fascinating tidbit was the inspiration for The Blind Contessa's New Machine. It tells the story of Carolina's youth, during which she doesn't really hav
...more
Lindsay
Nov 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. The diction is easy to follow and the landscape and geography is explained as if it has a life of its own. It is easy to imagine living in this time period, perhaps even being Carolina myself! The beginning of the book gave a background of the childhood experiences the protagonist, Carolina, has experienced. Her relationship with her mother is distant and mysterious and her relationship with her father is more practical and caring, in my opinion. Her friendship with T ...more
thewanderingjew
Mar 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
This brief, but charming tale is based on the creation of the first typewriter, built by Pellegrino Turri, in 1808, for his blind friend, the Countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzono.
The book begins with Carolina, the resourceful Contessa, as a young, perhaps willful, very independent young child who strikes out on her own, whenever she is able, to her lakeside cottage where she escapes from the world, creating a world of her own, in her mind’s eye. As a young child, she meets Turri, a bit of an
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Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
A privileged childhood, a wonderful friend, a doting father, her own cottage by the lake...what more could a girl ask for......Carolina's life was like a fairy tale come true. All was perfect until she knew something was wrong with her eyesight...no one believed her, but she knew she was going blind. No one except Turri her childhood friend that is...he believed everything she said.

He told her that she would be totally blind by New Year's Day....she didn't want to accept it would happen, but Tur
...more
four_eyes
Oct 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enchanting, whimsical read of two lovers who find solace in one another; Carolina as Turri's only audience to his endless quest and experiments for answers about the workings of his surroundings and him as her anchor and eyes when her world darkens. As Carolina slowly goes blind, Turri, her childhood friend, invents a writing machine akin to a typewriter for Carolina so she can remain connected with the world around her. Carolina and Turri are two like-minded characters with a strong penchant ...more
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Carey Wallace was raised in small towns in Michigan. Her work has appeared in Oasis, SPSM&H, Detroit's MetroTimes and quarrtsiluni, which she guest-edited in 2008. She is a founder of the Working Artists Initiative for the International Arts Movement, which helps emerging artists establish strong creative habits, of the Zoae Series, a New York arts showcase which she directed until 2008, and of t ...more

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Ashley Poston made her name with Once Upon a Con, a contemporary series set in the world of fandom, and her two-part space opera, Heart of...
22 likes · 4 comments
“His small compliments and offhand remarks formed a new scripture, and in breathless conversations and lonely, dream-drunk nights they built whole theologies from them.” 23 likes
“On the day Contessa Carolina Fantoni was married, only one other living person knew that she was going blind, and he was not her groom.

This was not because she had failed to warn them.

“I am going blind,” she had blurted to her mother, in the welcome dimness of the family coach, her eyes still bright with tears from the searing winter sun. By this time, her peripheral vision was already gone. Carolina could feel her mother take her hand, but she had to turn to see her face. When she did, her mother kissed her, her own eyes full of pity.

“I have been in love, too,” she said, and looked away.”
4 likes
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