Monday, November 29, 2010

The Blind Contessa's New Machine

The Blind Contessa's New Machine, by Carey Wallace

Carolina Fantoni is a young, upper-class Italian woman.  Shortly before her marriage, she realizes that she is going blind.  She tries to warn her fiancé and her parents, but they do not listen.  The only one who does is her neighbor, the eccentric Pellegrino Turri, who is in love with her.  As her eyesight dims, she learns to maneuver her way through her new dark world, both physically and emotionally.  She flies in her dreams.  One day, she tries to write a letter; ink stains her hands.  On seeing this, Turri invents for her the typewriter.   It changes everything.

This small gem of a novel explores the world of a woman born into a rigid, upper-class society, a society with certain expectations and mores, that changes towards her and for her as she goes blind.  The loss of that sense affects how she feels and thinks and reacts, and, in some ways, frees her.

This book, based on historical fact, is Carey Wallace's first novel, and a most promising début it is.