Ming & Ada spark the digital age by Jackie French

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In the fourth inspiring book in the series about Ming and her to timeslips back to the past, author Jackie French has once again shown the reader an exhaustive look at life in another time. Her attention to detail and her ability to share fascinating facts about the period of history in question alongside a well-constructed story, allows this series to offer an engaging read for those who love history.

Ming & Ada Spark the Digital Age is an intriguing look at early ideas and developments around the area of Mathematics, though this does not become apparent until later in the story. Ming has been taken by Herstory to an English mansion in Notting Hill. She is to become a scullery maid in a home where Ada Byron, the daughter of Lord Byron, is convalescing after contracting measles. She has been desperately ill, suffering from temporary blindness and medical cures of the time are not improving her condition.

Ming in her new subservient role, befriends Hepzibah, an African servant who is subject to the prejudices of the times. Through a series of unfortunate occurrences, Hepzibah is accused of theft and it is up to Ming to try to find the culprit. Alongside the drama with servants, Ming has also moved on to become a personal maid to the ailing Ada and with Ming’s knowledge of modern medicine she is able to nurse Ada back to reasonable health. While Ming is spending so much time with Ada, she is also learning that Ada has advanced knowledge of Mathematical theories and is a visionary genius. It is not until the end that the reader finds out the Ada indeed is an amazing woman of History who without Ming’s intervention, may not have survived to become the famous person she does.

Throughout this book, there are times when Ming begins to question her own family and her absent mother.  She is resentful about the situation and questions Herstory about where her mother may be. Herstory throws in an unexpected connection to a new friend and an enticing offer to find out more…Hopefully the fifth book in the series is not too far away!

Themes: Women & Girls in History, Timeslip, Prejudice, Servants, Measles Epidemic, England 1829, Mathematics, Family, Secrets.

Kathryn Beilby

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