From Publishers Weekly
In this absorbing biography, the Hooblers, historians and children's authors (The American Family Albums
), chronicle the turbulent life of Mary Shelley (1797–1851), author of the classic gothic novel, Frankenstein.
They open with a moving sketch of the life of her famous mother, feminist rebel writer Mary Wollstonecraft, who died 11 days after giving birth to Mary. Sixteen-year-old Mary eloped to France, in 1814, with the freethinking Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Effectively surrounded by egotistical and rapacious "monsters" such as Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, a new mother at 19, penned the tale of Frankenstein in response to a challenge set by Byron to guests at his Swiss villa. The Hooblers amply relate how the themes of Mary Shelley's masterpiece correspond to her life. Portraying Mary Shelley's stoic endurance of trauma and loss— two of her children died early—the Hooblers describe her final misery when Percy Shelley drowned while she was still in her early 20s. Summarizing Mary's other novels and recounting how she championed Shelley's posthumous literary reputation while raising her remaining son to conventional manhood, the Hooblers' well-crafted biography will appeal to all who wish to learn more about the conception of Frankenstein
and its enigmatic author. 8 pages of b&w photos. (May 22)
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*Starred Review* Mary Shelley's 1818 novel, Frankenstein,
is one of the best-known books in history, but many do not know that the lives of its author and those around her were equally as dramatic and tragic as those of the characters in her tale. Mary was the daughter of two famous radical authors, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, who died just 11 days after giving birth to Mary. At only 16, Mary eloped with the charismatic and eccentric Percy Shelley, who was besotted with Mary but already wed to another woman, by whom he had two children. Mary and Percy brought Mary's stepsister, Claire Claremont, with them, and she not only had an affair with Percy but also pursued Lord Byron, a poet as famous for his stunning good looks as for his verse. This group, along with Byron's emotionally fragile physician, John Polidori, gathered together for a summer in Switzerland, where a challenge Byron threw out inspired Mary to write Frankenstein.
Though the novel went on to meet with great success, the lives of all the authors would be touched by great tragedy in the following years. The lives of the writers were every bit as exciting as those of the characters they created, and the Hooblers recount the ups and downs in the lives of these Romantic-era geniuses with thrilling, intense prose. As exciting and fast paced as a good novel, this book is an absolute must-read for anyone interested in literary genius and the lives of people gifted with it. Kristine HuntleyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved