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The Invention of Everything Else [Paperback]

Samantha Hunt
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

2 April 2009

Louisa is an imaginative and curious chambermaid who, while cleaning rooms at the New Yorker Hotel, stumbles across a man living permanently in room 3327, which he has transformed into a scientific laboratory. Brought together by a shared interest in the pigeons that nest in the hotel, Louisa discovers that the mysterious guest is Nikola Tesla, one of the most brilliant - and most neglected - inventors of the twentieth century.

The Invention of Everything Else charts the relationship of the girl and the genius during the last week of Tesla's life, when sinister forces are closing in on him. As well as being an engaging literary mystery, this exceptional novel movingly tells the life story of this extraordinary man and also recounts the heartbreak and redemption of one ordinary family...


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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (2 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099524007
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099524007
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 519,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Completely original, one of the most distinctive and unforgettable voices I've read in years" (Dave Eggers)

"Samantha Hunt is an exciting find - a fresh, original voice... a fantastical love story... literary gold... It should appeal to fans of The Time Traveller's Wife and Donna Tartt" (Sunday Express)

"Both intelligent and compassionate... admirably ambitious... beautifully conjured" (Daily Telegraph)

"A beguiling mix of love, death, pigeons and time travel, it's a gem of a story about the power of imagination...An ingenious work of historical fiction" (Marie Claire)

"Samantha Hunt's fantasy comes closer than any biography to solving the riddle of Tesla's commercial and personal failings... The Invention of Everything Else is perfect for nights spent in the wrong hotel, once your travel plans have, as usual, gone subtly awry" (New Scientist)

Review

`a fascinating blend of fact, fiction, history and... science fiction surrounding the weird and wonderful life of Nikola Tesla'

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By G. J. Oxley TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This looked right up my street. It was described in various places as weird and wonderful, uplifting, original...and a `biographically accurate' (this from the publisher) look at the life of Nikola Tesla, real-life scientist, genius and extremely naļve businessman.

Nowadays he's no more than a footnote in the lives of other more celebrated names like Edison and Marconi. But Tesla invented AC electrical power before Edison took credit for bringing electricity to the world. And he formulated the principles of radio transmission years before Marconi's patent. He was the original mad scientist with many ideas ahead of his time - including a lot of crackpot ones - and he suffered from psychological disorders such as OCD and germ phobia. He inspired various cults throughout his life: some thought he came from Venus, others that he came from the future. He was celebrated, ridiculed, reviled, considered dangerous even. A worthy subject for a great novel then, you would have thought.

Unfortunately this isn't it.

The core story depicts Tesla in 1945, an octogenarian coming to the end of his days in a big New York Hotel where he's several years behind with his bill payments. A pigeon lover, he's befriended by a snooping young hotel chambermaid and fellow pigeon fancier, Louisa. He still experiments and maintains a laboratory of sorts in his room and at one stage he shorts all the electrical power within the hotel. Even at his advanced age he's still considered subversive and is being investigated by an unnamed government agency.

The interaction between Louisa and Tesla provides the book with some of its most touching scenes, and this is all well and good.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Invention Of Something Or Other...... 25 July 2008
By Peri Urban VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Samantha Hunt has created a work of perplexing charm.

This isn't the first book I've read to fictionalise the ultimate nutty scientist Nikola Tesla (ref: Christopher Priest's The Prestige), but this novel is the first I've read where Tesla is placed right at the heart of the narrative. It's a testament to Hunt's skill that she makes such an other worldly character utterly believable - well, at least within the context of what is essentially a psychological fantasy.

There are elements of science fiction (Hunt trained as a scientist) which are blended seamlessly with the period settings (1943). Tesla's role in the development of alternating current and radio is examined in a refreshingly non-technical way, partly through the eyes of the co-protagonist Louisa, a hotel chamber maid who befriends Tesla.

This is a technically proficient and engaging read, a real page turner - to a point.

There are significant weaknesses, especially with the focus of the narrative. Fantastic events are alluded to, but never resolved, making the most obvious point of reference the infuriatingly wonderful (?) film Donnie Darko. At the end you will be left wondering exactly what did happen.

There are shadowy antagonists, but very little in the way of personal peril. Tesla is a very old man, so perhaps his fate is somewhat predictable, but without giving the plot away, the fate of Louisa is similarly almost never in doubt.

Throughout, there are moments where the reader is convinced that the mechanics of the story telling have been cleverly subverted to some purposeful end. But once the book is finished the reader may be left with the feeling that the author was at times simply struggling to fill the space efficiently.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New York Dream 4 July 2008
By Diziet TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a beautiful book.

If you're looking for a biography of Nikola Tesla, go and buy a biography of Nikola Tesla. This isn't it. The author herself recommends a couple at the end of the book.

This is a story about Louisa, a chambermaid in the gothic fairyland castle of the New Yorker Hotel, her father Walter, night watchman in an equally gothic library, Azor, Walter's best friend and inventor extraordinary, Arthur, who claims to have been to school with Louisa but who Louisa has no recollection of, Louisa's dead mother, Freddie (Winifred) and Nikola (or Niko) Tesla. Supporting actors include George Westinghouse, Thomas Edison, J P Morgan and Mark Twain.

The story is about invention and inventors - failed inventions and inventors, successful inventions and inventors, helpful and lethal. It's about a dream scape, almost Ray Bradbury depiction of New York, and the wild characters that inhabit it. It's about pigeons.

The inventions are real and existent, but they are also fantastical and comic strip, fair ground rides, but you can't immediately distinguish between them.

Louisa is drawn to Tesla and believes him to be a great and good man, whose inventions benefit mankind. She is fascinated by his room in the New Yorker hotel and by the stories that she finds there, but she is also in her own fantastic story.

Louisa has to deal with Azor and her father, assisted by Arthur, and their own inventions. Her father's obsession with finding her dead mother, her realisation that not all of Tesla's inventions are necessarily for the benefit of mankind and her mother's last words ("I'll build it...") build to a gentle, ironic and sad finale that almost comes down to earth with rather more than a bump.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my Style
It did not really live up to my understanding of what the book was all about.
In fact I found it a hard read.
Published 20 months ago by Stanley Cannon
3.0 out of 5 stars Quick Reviews!
Samantha Hunt's debut shows an assured talent in the making, a writer unafraid to take the reader on a journey with few answers, focusing instead on fragments of history and... Read more
Published on 18 Nov 2011 by carlosnightman
3.0 out of 5 stars Original but flawed novel
An odd, quirky book, well written but not without its flaws. I would certainly give it marks for originality, even if the ideas don't quite come off right. Read more
Published on 5 Jun 2011 by BookWorm
3.0 out of 5 stars I wanted to like this more...
The book is well written in that its a sensual delight to read... but while I can make sense of some very complex tales, I never found sense in this one. Read more
Published on 28 April 2011 by C Fox
2.0 out of 5 stars A very slow read
Whilst this book is very well written, I found it very hard to read. The characters are well written and some parts were very good but overall the story didn't keep my interest.
Published on 29 Nov 2009 by RM Brown
4.0 out of 5 stars Strange. Strage. Strange. Strange. Strange.
As you will have guessed, I think this is a strange novel.

Not half bad for a first one though. Read more
Published on 17 Sep 2009 by S. Lindgren
3.0 out of 5 stars Tesla underplayed
Nikola Tesla, born in 1856, was a young engineering student in Croatia, a Serb with a ferocious talent for invention when he sailed to America armed only with a note of... Read more
Published on 9 Sep 2009 by Eileen Shaw
3.0 out of 5 stars Some inspirational moments but it tests your patience...
My rating is based more on the fact that 'The Invention of Everything Else' has some moments of inspired writing and Hunt clearly has a decent amount of talent. Read more
Published on 13 Aug 2009 by BlestMiss T
1.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to get into...
I'm usually a quick reader, but it took some time for me to finish this book. The upsides are the poetic language and unique description; the downside is a story that is a bit... Read more
Published on 17 Jun 2009 by AJ Ward
5.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable and interesting read.
There is so much about The Invention of Everything Else which makes it an almost instant classic. I enjoyed reading every page, finding Hunt's use of language to be more poetic... Read more
Published on 3 Jun 2009 by Ms. Alice Penrith
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