Archive for the ‘Ada Byron’ Category

[LISTENED TO: August 22, 2015] The Case of the Missing Moonstone

wollensI was immediately attracted to this book because of the title of the series.  What an intriguing idea.  When we started listening to it, I was even more excited because of how Stratford has taken reality and tinkered with it to make this intriguing mystery.

The preface explains exactly what Stratford is up to:

This is a made-up story about two very real girls: Ada Byron, who has been called the world’s first computer programmer, and Mary Shelley, the world’s first science-fiction author. Ada and Mary didn’t really know one another, nor did they have a detective agency together.  Mary and Ada were eighteen years apart in age, not three, as they are in the world of Wollstonecraft.
Setting that aside, the characters themselves are as true to history as we are able to tell.  At the end of the book, there are notes that reveal more about what happened to each of them in real life, so that you can enjoy the history as much as I hope you’ll enjoy the story.  Because the history bit is brilliant.

The plot is a mystery, of course, but it takes a long time to actually get to the mystery (long into the second of three audio discs).  Because the beginning of the book does an excellent job of establishing character and setting.  It even feels like it may have been written in the time period in which it is set–the prose is kind of leisurely and very British (or at least that is how it is read by Nicola Barber, whose voice is simply perfect for this story).  So even though there was no actual mystery I really enjoyed these opening chapters.

As the story opens we meet young Ada.  She is obviously brilliant–reading books at a young age, creating fascinating science experiments (she is trying to imagine how fast a sock would have to fly for it to hurt someone and imagines inventing a sock cannon) and hanging out in the gondola of a hot-air balloon (which is tethered to her house).  But she has no real connection to the world and doesn’t even know the names of her maids and servants (thinking the woman who just left to get married was called Miss Coverlet).  In fact there are some hilarious malaprops later in the book. Her father (Lord Byron) is long gone and her mother is away.  So her mother has hired a tutor to look after Ada. (more…)

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