by Carey Wallace
Historical Fiction, 207 pages
The book took place during the nineteenth century in Italy. Contessa Carolina Fantoni was going blind, yet nobody believed not even her fiancé. The only believer was her friend, Pellegrino Turri who also turned into her lover. Turri was ten years older and married himself, yet they sneaked away to the lake house where Carolina spent so much time in her youth. Her husband basically held her captive and locked the house, because he was in fear that she wouldn’t be able to handle the outside world being blind. Turri proclaimed that he loved her and begged to run away together. Carolina attempted to write a letter, but it was a disaster because the ink spilled and she couldn’t write straight. Turri invented a typewriter for her to write letters. She was now able to freely write to family and secret messages to Turri. The story events were true, since Pellegrino Turri was often accredited for inventing the first working typewriter and carbon paper. Unfortunately, not much was known about the typewriter but some of Carolina’s letters written on the typewriter survived.
The Blind Contessa’s New Machine was interesting, because there were no chapters and it seemed almost like a whimsical tale. Books need a problem or conflict, but this book really didn’t have anything besides the fact that she was blind and had a lover. I think the only reason I finished the book was because it was so easy and fast.
by Michael Hingson and Susy Flory
Nonfiction, 256 pages
Thunder Dog is a book about a blind man’s relationship with his guide dog, Roselle, and how they escaped together from the Twin Towers. Michael Hingson was born blind and throughout the entire book you learn how this never stopped him , but pushed him forward. Forward is also the first command that a guide dog learns. Hingson calmly travels down the hundreds of stairs with his faithful dog at all times. Thunder Dog provides descriptions from events on September 11th, but I wouldn’t say it’s the only focus. The book goes back and forth from Hingson growing up in a sighted world to the long journey down the stairs. He discusses the relationship with his guide dogs, discrimination he encountered, resources that helped him, and his constant determination. If you’re searching for a book that’s only focused on 9/11 with detailed descriptions then this is the wrong book. (Previous review: 102 Minutes is a better choice.) However, if you’re looking for a book with heart that focuses on one individual during a moment of hope then this is your book.
Here are some Guide Dog Wisdom from the book:
What I learned from Roselle on 9/111. There’s a time to work and a time to play. Know the difference. When the harness goes on, it’s time to work. Work hard; others are depending on you. 2. Focus in and use all of your senses. Learn to tell the difference between a harmless thunderstorm and a true emergency. Don’t let your sight get in the way of your vision. 3. Sometimes the way is hard, but if you work together, someone will pass along a water bottle just when you need it. 4. Always, but always, kiss firefighters. 5. Ignore distractions. There’s more to life than playing fetch or chasing tennis balls. 6. Listen carefully to those who are wiser and more experienced than you. They’ll help you find the way. 7. Don’t stop until work is over. Sometimes being a hero is just doing your job. 8. The dust cloud won’t last forever. Keep going and look for the way out. It will come. 9. Shake off the dust and move on. Remember the first guide dog command? “Forward.” 10. When work is over, play hard with your friends.
Michael Hingson (Thunder Dog, page 173)