The Invention of Everything Else: Samantha Hunt
Novels that reimagine history walk a difficult line – too much factual detail and they become an untrustworthy biography, too little and they disrespect the framework of their story. Samantha Hunt avoids these pitfalls to make The Invention of Everything Else a soaring, lyrical tribute to its subject, inventor Nikola Tesla. The novel imagines Tesla’s later years, living alone in the Hotel New Yorker in the 1940s, and a friendship with a young inquisitive chambermaid, Louisa Dewell. Louisa lives with her father and has her own reasons for sharing Nikola’s obsessions: time travel, electricity and pigeons. As she learns more about the hotel’s most famous resident and uncovers the true story of his amazing life, her own life takes begins to take some incredible turns. With vivid historical detail that makes New York both solidly real and ethereally magical, this elegant novel is a mix of love story, science fiction and magic realism. It’s easy for the reader to disappear inside the concurrent stories of Nikola’s life in the 1800s and Louisa’s in the 1940s and not notice time passing, itself a rare kind of time-travel trick. Samantha Hunt is a controlled and intelligent writer clearly in love with Nikola Tesla. And who could blame her.