The Blind Contessa’s New Machine
Is this novel really about the machine as the title suggests? Since the machine, a typewriter, is what allows the blind Contessa to communicate with her lover its obviously pretty important.
But frustratingly, the novel doesn’t tell us (or maybe its not meant to) what Pellegrini Turri’s last letter relays. The Countess leaves his last missive on the bed even though a girl offers to read it to
her. We also don’t know how much Antonio knows when he burns the typewriter. Typewriters at this time were apparently made almost entirely out of wood, except for the “type” plates.
The ending and the setting instantly remind me of a Henry Jamesian novel. The reader is left in the “dark” on purpose. What we don’t know about characters is just as important as what we do know.
The novel does make me eager to learn the Carolina Fantoni and Pellegrini Turri’s history. It leaves readers with a delightful scent of lemons, winding rivers, and fanciful dreams. Though Carolina’s fate is tragic the novel also leaves readers with a new appreciation for the lengths someone will go through to find a chance of happiness.
Because there are so many open ended questions, this novel would make a wonderful book club selection.