Advance reader reviews of The Blind Contessa's New Machine by Carey Wallace.

The Blind Contessa's New Machine

A Novel

By Carey Wallace

The Blind Contessa's New Machine
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  Jul 2010,
    224 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

Page 2 of 4
There are currently 23 member reviews
for The Blind Contessa's New Machine
Order Reviews by:
  • Julie Rand. (Jefferson, ME)

    The Blind Contessa's New Machine
    This passionate love story of Contessa Carolina Fantoni, Turri, her lover, and Pietro, her husband, explores the conflict between individual expression and societal traditional mores. The strength of this novel lies in its charming description of the natural world through Carolina's disclosures of visual detail, dream fantasy and memory recall. In addition, Carolina provides the vehicle for a believable account of the onslaught of blindness and eventually the means of coping with complete loss of sight. Although lyrical and well constructed, the theme of blindness necessitates long passages which tend to retard the flow of the story line and stagnate the mystery and suspense that the author endeavors to create. A pleasant summer's read, the book cleverly succeeds in rendering some redemptive quality to the plight of the blind Contessa.
  • Deborah M. (Chambersburg, PA)

    While this isn't a novel that I can rave about, I did enjoy it and recommend it as a quick and light summer read. One of its strong points is Wallace's fine development of atmosphere. There's a dreamy, sensual quality about her descriptions that perfectly fits the story of a young contessa adapting to losing her eyesight and dreaming her way back to beloved familiar places and exciting new places that she will never see in person. The reader can see the beauty of the contessa's lake and and smell her lush gardens, hear the sad music of the cello and the joyful song of her caged bird, feel the heat of the candle wax and the thick velvet of her robe. The romance is satisfying without going over the top.

    If I could change one thing about this book, it would be the title, which probably won't catch the attention of readers who would potentially enjoy the novel. "The Blind Contessa" suggests an older woman, not a vibrant young bride; and "the new machine" plays only a secondary (yet important) role and doesn't appear until the last third of the book. This is NOT the story of the invention of the typewriter!
  • Sandra H. (St. Cloud, Minnesota)

    The Blind Contessa's New Machine
    A beautiful young girl growing up with little attention from her loving but distant parents, Contessa Carolina Fantoni is allowed to do what she wants until they discover that she spends most of her days with Turri, her married neighbor who fills her mind with his impractical but fascinating and often beautiful experiments. When Turri, 10 years her senior, tells the 17-year-old Carolina that he is in love with her, his words ring "in her mind like an alarm bell."

    At 18 Carolina marries Pietro, the most eligible suitor in her neighborhood, and is set to live a life of luxury. Unfortunately she is going blind but neither Pietro nor her parents believe her until it happens. Left alone with only the handsome but unimaginative Pietro and a servant to read to her, Carolina lives in her dreams until she stumbles her way to the lake where she had spent her childhood. There she meets Turri who creates a special "writing machine" for her so they can communicate. Perhaps his only practical invention, this machine will eventually determine the outcome of their lives.

    This beautifully realized story, takes readers into a world that is part fairy tale and part fantasy yet still grounded in reality. Readers see the world as Carolina sees it, experiencing her gradually diminished sight and her attempts to live in a dark world.
  • Heather F. (Tulsa, OK)

    The Blind Contessa's New Machine
    This short book has an ethereal beauty to it. The reader feels transported into a gauzy world of another time and place where emotion and reason are not center place. The two main characters seem to float above the rest of us in a place where their love and devotion are so strong that the constraints of this earth don't apply. A delightful read!
  • Rita L. (Green Bay, WI)

    Light Reading
    I would consider this book a light summer read. While the story was interesting enough, with the invention of a “writing machine”, I thought the characters were underdeveloped and I had no strong feelings about any of them. I enjoy historical novels when there is detail about the customs and culture of the time, but I felt this was missing here.
  • Carm D. (Omaha, NE)

    The Blind Contessa's New Machine
    I really enjoyed this book. It was well written and retained my interest through the entire story. I would have preferred a different ending but the characters are wonderful. This is a lovely first novel.
  • Celia A. (Takoma Park, MD)

    I wanted it to be better
    This book was a fast read, but it didn’t grab me. Carolina Fantoni, the contessa of the title, was the only character who seemed particularly fleshed out. The characters are based on historical figures, so perhaps Wallace had less to work with for the characters of Pietro (the husband) and Turri (the friend and inventor of an early typewriter). I did enjoy Wallace’s description of Carolina’s experience as she was going blind. This wasn’t a bad book, but I wanted it to be better.
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"

    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist


Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.