teelgee, August 20, 2009 (view all comments by teelgee)
Fantastic writing and storytelling. Very creative. Historical fiction/fantasy about Nikola Tesla, a scientist and inventor whose contributions to electrical and magnetic discoveries are vastly underrated. Hunt's writing is accessible and fascinating, both historically and creatively. It was a fun book to read. Highly recommend.
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KellyT, February 8, 2009 (view all comments by KellyT)
The back-and-forth narrative of this novel -- between the intersecting lives of real, maybe-mad scientist Nikola Tesla and a fictional chambermaid in the hotel in which he spent he last days -- takes some getting used to at first. But once you do, you'll find yourself transported to early 20th-century New York and the life of one of its most interesting inhabitants. The life of the chambermaid isn't nearly so interesting as that of the man she serves, but her story does tie together some of the themes Tesla spent his life thinking about. This slim novel packs in a lot of history, all told with a sense of magic in often beautiful prose. Samantha Hunt brings one of history's strangest and most important men to life in this moving meditation on invention and love.
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The Invention of Everything Else: A Novel
0 stars -
Houghton Mifflin Company -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"In Hunt's (The Seas) overstuffed and uneven novel set in New York, circa 1943, an aging Nikola Tesla lives at the Hotel New Yorker and cares for (and chats with) pigeons while planning what could be his boldest invention yet. He forges an unlikely friendship with Louisa Dewell, a 24-year-old chambermaid at the hotel who also keeps a pigeon coop. The book alternates between Niko's reminisces of turn-of-the century Manhattan and Louisa's current domestic dramas; Niko revisits old grievances concerning the usurpation or dismissal of his many inventions, and Louisa gets ensnared in her zany father's mission to travel back in time and reconnect with his dead wife via a time machine built by his lifelong friend Azor Carter. Assisting in the scheme is Louisa's mysterious beau, Arthur Vaughn, who may or may not be from the future. Although many events are drawn from Tesla's life, he and his peers, including Thomas Edison and John Muir, are cartoonish. Likewise, the city backdrop is drenched in rosy nostalgia (even Hell's Kitchen is a quaint neighborhood). Each individual plot thread has potential, but the cumulative effect is dulled by an unwieldy structure." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day"
by Ron Charles, Washington Post Book World,
"Samantha Hunt's magical new novel is a love letter to one of the world's most remarkable inventors....Tesla was born in Serbia in 1856, and his life followed a rags-to-riches-to-rags trajectory that would sound melodramatic if it weren't so tragic and true — or told with such surprising charm in The Invention of Everything Else." (read the entire Washington Post Book World review)
by Alice Evans, The Oregonian,
"Hunt's poetic capabilities are enormous, her flight of words up to the task of taking us where she wants us to go. If you allow yourself to take off soaring with her, you will not be disappointed by the view."
"Oddly charming and pleasantly peculiar, Hunt's novel offers a unique perspective on hope and imagining life's possibilities."
by San Francisco Chronicle,
"Lucky for us that Samantha Hunt, in her highly imaginative second novel...is as obsessed as a writer can be about Tesla. We're made aware of this in the book's stunning opening pages, which take off in a voice finely crafted to carry Hunt's history-steeped tale."
by Library Journal,
"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. Recommended."
by The Chicago Tribune,
"The facts of Tesla's life are fascinating, and...it's hard not to conclude that Hunt had her heart in the right place with this book, that her highest concerns are with wonder and love, with questions of survival."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"There's much food for thought here and some very beautiful prose. Unfortunately, plot developments...come perilously close to being ludicrous....A bold but failed attempt to combine magic realism and intellectual fiction."
Hunt's novel is a wondrous imagining of an unlikely friendship between the eccentric inventor Nikola Tesla and a young chambermaid in the Hotel New Yorker, where Tesla lived out his last days.
From the moment Louisa first catches sight of the strange man who occupies a forbidden room on the thirty-third floor, she is determined to befriend him.Unbeknownst to Louisa, he is Nikola Tesla—inventor of AC electricity and wireless communication—and he is living out his last days at the Hotel New Yorker.Winning his attention through a shared love of pigeons, she eventually uncovers the story of Teslas life as a Serbian immigrant and a visionary genius: as a boy he built engines powered by June bugs, as a man he dreamed of pulling electricity from the sky.The mystery deepens when Louisa reunites with an enigmatic former classmate and faces the loss of her father as he attempts to travel to the past to meet up with his beloved late wife. Before the week is out, Louisa must come to terms with her own understanding of love, death, and the power of invention.
The Invention of Everything Else immerses the reader in a magical mid-twentieth-century New York City thrumming with energy, wonder, and possibility.
New York City thrums with energy, wonder, and possibility in this magical novel about the life of Nikola Tesla.
It is 1943, and the renowned inventor Nikola Tesla occupies a forbidden room on the 33rd floor of the Hotel New Yorker, stealing electricity. Louisa, a young maid at the hotel determined to befriend him, wins his attention through a shared love of pigeons; with her we hear his tragic and tremendous life story unfold. Meanwhile, Louisa discovers that her father—and her handsome, enigmatic love interest, Arthur Vaughan—are on an unlikely mission to travel back in time and find his beloved late wife. A masterful hybrid of history, biography, and science fiction, The Invention of Everything Else is an absorbing story about love and death and a wonderfully imagined homage to one of history's most visionary scientists.
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