I loved this book and hated it all at the same time. It is a beautiful confession written in such a way that you feel as if you are watching the whole story through a snow globe. That distance combined with Wallace’s wonderful way with words give this slim volume the enchantment of a fairy tale. There is a surreal feel to the characters that could only exist in such story, at once beloved but unattainable. The Blind Contessa’s New Machine is the story of a young woman who is going blind. The novel pays meticulous attention to what she can and can not see painting for the reader lavish and sometime fanciful watercolors of words as the Contessa moves about both in the waking world and that of her dreams.
There is only one soul who seems to understand her – his is a long time friend and fellow dreamer a few years her senior. They both seem to have an easy acceptance of the others eccentricities, and would seem a match except that he is married and she is about to be. I finished this novel with a notebook full of quotes that had to added to my collection and a general dissatisfy feeling as I wanted this to be the fairy tale I’d felt it was in my mind and instead I got the mundane world ending that I suppose was enviable. I am far too much a romantic dreamer myself to be able to easily reconcile this things in my mind. I believe the author herself provided a quote that captures a bit of the feeling I had when I turned the last page.
“She found herself wishing for the Pietro her heart had constructed over the previous years: sure-footed, understanding, and fearless, to come rescue her from Pietro himself as he rambled on at her side. The wish made her dizzy.” P 47