The Blind Contessa's New Machine is a historical novel about a love triangle and the invention of the first typewriter. It also the first novel by Carey Wallace.
This book is a work of a fiction based upon a simple historical fact: the first typewriter was invented by Pelligrino Turri for Carolina Fantoni in 1808. The machine invented by Turri did not survive and Turri only invented the one. The letters which Carolina typed are the only historical record of Turri's achievement. Someone else would eventually reinvent the machine we know now as the typewriter.
The story is set in early 19th century Italy and involves the coming-of-age of the only daughter of a Count. The Count owns a lemons orchard and dotes upon his daughter, Carolina Fantoni, at every turn. Carolina is an inquisitive child, given to flights of fancy. She spends much of her time at a small lake which borders her father's property and that of the local eccentric inventor Turri.
While still a teenager she begins to gradually go blind. Nobody believes her at first, which only vexes Carolina all the more. The idea of a person gradually losing their sense of sight is too alien of an idea for most people to comprehend. But one man takes her words to heart and thus vows to win Carolina's heart.
This novel is delightful. The prose efficient and at times poetic (but not too showy). If you enjoy history or romance, than you will surely love this little book.
Published by Penguin in 2011