This is a fictionalized account of the life of Nikola Tesla a Serbian-American inventor who is known for a range of break-through discoveries. Tesla is portrayed as an obsessive inventor with a brilliant mind, but a man who spends his last days penniless and living in a room at the New Yorker Hotel where he dies in 1943. In this book, the author imagines a friendship developing with a chamber-maid Louisa, who shares Tesla’s interest in pigeons.
I enjoyed reading about the life of Nikola Tesla, but I think that the addition of magic realism to the story is not necessary, as noted by Kirkus “A bold but failed attempt to combine magic realism and intellectual fiction.” Publishers Weekly commented on the “unwieldy structure” of the novel, which I feel contains too many threads.
“A possibility machine that does every last thing you would ever conceive of if time were not finite, if there were no end to invention, no end to living. Or at least no end to Nikola Tesla… ‘The invention of everything else’ she says … Picture telephones. Magnetic surgery. Wireless printing presses. Teleportation. Perpetual motion. Immortality, I suppose.”
“Women will one day rule the world, and when they do, their brains will be so finely tuned from all the years of quiet that I anticipate that they will be far superior rulers to men.”
“Having lived in America for fifty-nine years, I’ve nearly perfected my relationships with the pigeons, the sparrows, and the starlings of New York City. Particularly the pigeons. Humans remain a far greater challenge.”
Author: Samantha Hunt
Awards: Orange Prize Nominee for Fiction Shortlist (2009)