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Lord Byron's novel : the evening land
John Crowley
Adult Fiction CROWLEY

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From Publishers' Weekly:

On a stormy night at Lord Byron's Swiss villa, Mary Shelley challenged her host, her husband and herself to write a ghost story. Mary's, of course, became Frankenstein. Byron supposedly soon gave up his-but, Crowley asks, what if he didn't? The result is this brilliant gothic novel of manners enclosed in two frames. In one, Byron's manuscript comes into the hands of Ada, his daughter by his estranged wife. Ada, in reality, became famous as a proto-cyberneticist, having collaborated on mathematician Charles Babbage's "difference engine." In Crowley's novel, Ada ciphers Byron's work into a kind of code in order to keep it from her mother. The second frame consists of the contemporary discovery of Ada's notes on Byron's story by Alexandra Novak, who's researching Ada for a Web site dedicated to the history of women in science. Alex is, a little too conveniently (this novel's one structural flaw), the estranged daughter of a Byron scholar and filmmaker; her interest in Ada dovetails with her father's interest in Byron, and she's fascinated by the notes and the code both. By applying Byron's scintillating epistolary style to the novel he should have written, Crowley creates a pseudo-Byronic masterpiece. The plot follows Ali, the bastard son of Lord "Satan" Sane and an unfortunate minor wife of a minor Albanian "Bey." Sane finds and takes the boy, aged 12, back to Regency England. Ali's life is filled with gothic events, from the murder of his father (of which he is accused) to his escape from England with the help of a "zombi," the fortuitous and critical aid he gives the English army at the Battle of Salamanca and his love affair with a married woman. The myth of Byron's lost papers has a catalyzing effect on American literary genius, giving us James's Aspern Papers and now Crowley's best novel. Agent, Ralph Vicinanza. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Crowley's (Daemonomania) magnificent new novel is multilayered and convoluted, a story within a story within a story that spans three centuries. It opens with the discovery of a fictitious and somewhat biographical manuscript by Lord Byron. The manuscript itself is a kick, complete with pashas and privateers, fortunes and loves won and lost, sexual ambiguity, and locations spanning from Albania to the Scottish Highlands, all written in prose as flowery as Byron's poetry. This manuscript then mysteriously falls into the hands of Byron's daughter, Ada, known today as one of the first mathematicians to understand the possibilities of computer programming. She encodes the manuscript and adds long, often rambling annotations, pondering her own life as well as her father's. Finally, the reader sees Byron's novel and Ada's notes through the eyes of Alexandra, a 21st-century computer wiz who decodes the notes and ponders her own relationship with her distant father. This book will appeal to sophisticated readers and is highly recommended for medium and large public libraries.-Mary Margaret Benson, Linfield Coll. Lib., McMinnville, OR (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Ada, Countess of Lovelace
Female
Orphan
Lord Bryon's daughter; he abandoned her as a child; discovers a manuscript of her father's rotting in an old trunk.
Mathematician

Ali
Male
Lord Byron's main character in his forgotten manuscript; bastard son of Lord "Satan" Sane; accused of murdering his father; has an affair with a married woman.



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