The Invention of Everything Else Summary and Reviews

The Invention of Everything Else

by Samantha Hunt

The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt X
The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2008
    272 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A wondrous imagining of an unlikely friendship between the eccentric inventor Nikola Tesla and a young chambermaid in the Hotel New Yorker where Tesla lives out his last days.

From the moment she first catches sight of the Hotel New Yorker’s most famous resident on New Year’s Day 1943, Louisa -- obsessed with radio dramas and the secret lives of the guests -- is determined to befriend this strange man. As Louisa discovers their shared affinity for pigeons, she also begins to piece together Tesla’s extraordinary story of life as an immigrant, a genius, and a halfhearted capitalist. Meanwhile, Louisa—faced with her father’s imminent departure in a time machine to reunite with his late wife, and pleasantly unsettled by the arrival in her life of a mysterious mechanic (perhaps from the future) named Arthur -- begins to suspect that she has understood something about the relationship of love and invention that Tesla, for all his brilliance, never did.

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Media Reviews

"Hunt (The Seas) delivers a breathtaking novel that is both difficult to classify and impossible to ignore ..... Peppered with literary quotations, historical figures, and subtle eroticism, this book will please readers who enjoy experimentation and uncertainty in both their fiction choices and their worldview." - Library Journal.

"Each individual plot thread has potential, but the cumulative effect is dulled by an unwieldy structure." - Publishers Weekly.

"A bold but failed attempt to combine magic realism and intellectual fiction." - Kirkus Reviews.

The information about The Invention of Everything Else shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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The Invention of Everything
Magical. The words,the actions, the emotions, transforms you into the author's world in a blink of an eye. And what a world it is...the characters are well written and the story catches you from the first word and keeps you hanging until the last. I read this book as I traveled on my treadmill (it is a blustery Minnesota winter) and ended up walking further then usual in order to finish the book and figure out the mysteries. Thank you for the opportunity to read something I might otherwise have passed up in the store. It was well worth it.


Lyrical, lovely, ethereal
Samantha Hunt's novel is a "what if" historical fiction on the last months of the life of Nikola Tesla, the inventor of alternating current electricity. His life was much obscured by the better known Thomas Edison; however, as this book well illuminates, Edison was more rigid, capitalistic, and less visionary than Tesla.

This book is allegorical and metaphorical. Although we learn about Tesla's Serbian roots, his boyhood, and the inner workings of his great mind, Hunt shines even more light on his heart. She does this with aspects of time travel, with his relationship with pigeons, and a fictional relationship with an astute and intelligent chambermaid at the Hotel New Yorker, where he lives the last years of his life.

There is much inner dialogue from the main characters of the story, which makes it a more character-driven than a plot driven read. There is definitely a plot, and suspense, but the texture of the tale and the beautiful turns of phrase and imagery stay with you long after the story ends. Hunt weaves in concepts of psychology, philosophy, and literature, giving the story many dynamic layers. This novel is a novel of ideas as much as it is a fictional biography on the life of a genius. I wanted to ask the author if she had read "Hopeful Monsters," by Nicholas Mosley, as there are strong parallels about the elusiveness of time and the enigma of the human heart, as well as specific references to Goethe. Additionally, both authors are exceptionally open and generous writers and do not borrow from religion in order to hold high values and ethics. I look forward to Samantha Hunt's next novel.

Stephanie Chance

This book is full of eccentric, interesting characters. A little bit of history, a little bit of fantasy and time travel... It reminded me a little of Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife in that you have to suspend your disbelief, but it is ultimately rewarding. The thing I love most about this book is that it sparks my interest in learning something new. I had no idea who Nikola Tesla was before I read this, but now I am glad that I do know about him and his contributions to society. I particularly enjoyed the theme of conflict between invention for invention's sake and invention for fame. Thomas Edison as foil for Tesla in this regard was a surprising and thought provoking element. I definitely recommend this book to any reading group whose members like to be challenged.


Buy this Book!
I absolutely loved this book!

Whether you are a Tesla fan or know nothing at all about the man, you will love this book too. I found the characters well developed and interesting. The story was thought provoking and fascinating although it does move slowly in the beginning. Hunt's description of flight (literally) pulls the reader into weightlessness.

I will forever be curious about pigeons and electricity.


The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunter
This is a book filled with luminance, suspense and mystery. In the first few chapters the mystery deepens because we are never quite sure who is who, or where, or when. As we travel with the author we begin to understand that we must always ask, who is who, and where, and when? Hunt leads us through theories of time travel, energy amplification and electricity, blending the ideas and theories of the great, unsung scientific genius of our times, Nikola Tesla, with ideas that remind us more of H.G. Wells’s fiction. In fact, Wells is obliquely referred to via reference to Orson Welles’s famous radio broadcast of the 1930’s and the appearance of a machine for time travel.

Two editorial decisions make the book more difficult to follow than it needs to be: first, a lack of footnotes and attributions will confound readers unfamiliar with Tesla’s accomplishments; and second, the creation of fictional characters who play the roles of real-life individuals causes us to wonder why they have been singled out for anonymity, especially considering the large cast of historical figures.

On the delightful side, the author’s writing style is charming, with many turns of phrase for readers to savor, such as “living as they do on the opposite ends of the sunlight” to describe a father and daughter who work night and day shifts, respectively. Or, near the end of the book, a memory of “a day, years ago now, when I’d asked him what the word ‘scintillating’ meant. He hadn’t quite known the answer, so between the two of us, we made a decision. From then on ‘scintillating’ would be used to describe those moments when the right word just can’t be found.”

This book is a scintillating read.


The Invention of Everything Else
Samantha Hunt uses her characters to bring the invisible world before us to examine - you may never look at a speck of dust quite the same! Though the book is steeped in science, it does not overwhelm the reader with minutiae - the writing style is wonderfully enriched. As the characters tinker with time so then, does the author - she walks you through the grandeur of the Hotel New Yorker and the streets of mid-twentieth century Hell's Kitchen in such beautiful detail that the imagery is complete in your mind.

...6 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Samantha Hunt Author Biography

Samantha Hunt's novel about Nikola Tesla, The Invention of Everything Else, was a finalist for the Orange Prize and winner of the Bard Fiction Prize. Her first novel, The Seas, won the National Book Foundation's Five Under Thirty-Five prize. Hunt's work has been published in The New Yorker, McSweeney's, the New York Times, Tin House, A Public Space, Cabinet, Blind Spot, the London Times and in a number of other fine publications. Her books have been translated into ten languages. She has performed with Jim Jarmusch and Luc Sante at All Tomorrow's Parties, at Los Angeles's Hammer Museum and REDCAT, with the National Theater of the United States of America (NTUSA) at PS122, in the PEN/Faulkner Reading Series, at Seattle's Bumbershoot Festival, and as part of BAM's Next Wave Festival. Her ...

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