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Almost Invincible Paperback – May 1, 2014
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Suzanne Burdon has written a superb fictional account of Shelley's life and melded real life drama with imaginings to create a gripping debut novel - Belinda Giblin (Actor)
About the Author
Social researcher, academic and author Suzanne Burdon's research for Almost Invincible has been extensive. She travelled to the UK, the US and Europe to maintain the authenticity of the story. The book whilst factually based, beautifully imagines the emotions, conversations, and some of the mysteries surrounding Mary Shelley's life. Burdon says of writing the book, 'Amongst the volumes of extant information and many complex biographies I glimpsed a Mary who was a teenage rebel, a grieving mother, a determined author and a long suffering lover of a man well ahead of his time. It made me want to tell her story.' Suzanne is British, and currently lives in Sydney, Australia.
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Top customer reviews
The book's pace is slow, but it is a biographical and is to be expected because of the research and details that have been included. Mary was not afraid to break with convention and face scandal. I think it is this that fascinates readers because she is of the Victorian era with strict morals and social norms. If you're looking for an accurate, rich, and descriptive biography about Shelley, then this is the book to read! Very well done!
Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The book chronicles different periods of time in the Shelley’s lives during which they traveled to Switzerland, France, and Italy. Mary’s step-sister Claire tags along from the beginning, mostly because she thinks she is also in love with Shelley but also because she can’t stand to let Mary have any fun/happiness. Claire as a character was just so easy to hate and, at very few times, also to pity. Mary and Shelley’s story was also full of other well-known and not-so well-known people of the time, including Lord Byron, Leigh Hunt, and Edward Williams. Shelley always felt best when surrounded by people who sympathized with his plights and his tribulations.
Overall I enjoyed this book a lot, it was packed full of interesting characters. It became a little frustrating that Mary could never seem to catch a break and honestly Shelley was a bit too naive for my tastes. He kept thinking that his first wife Harriet would come live with him and Mary as friends and bring his children to live with them all and they would just be one big happy family. He couldn’t understand why that was not only illogical but completely unreasonable. His naivete became almost charming by the end though, mostly because in reality he is just an endless optimist who only wanted to make every one around him happy. And while at times he could be insensitive to Mary’s feeling son certain subjects, his deep esteem and affection for her was obvious and touching. The plot line of the story was well paced and honestly I didn’t want to put it down. I thought this was a great story and I would recommend it!
After drawing her readers into each chapter with a literary quote, the author uses references from Greek mythology as well as devices such as alliteration, metaphors and similes which build each scene for her characters’ interactions to unfold. I particularly liked the anthropomorphism of ‘London stretching its early morning limbs’.
We witness some of Mary’s experiences which subsequently influenced the plot in Frankenstein, as the bohemian family continue their nomadic life in Europe. Whilst they are plagued by a series of misfortunes, they find a measure of contentment among the expat community in Italy, along with some local and international intelligentsia.
We sympathise with Mary as she continues to struggle with her nemesis. The altruistic, philanthropic and unworldly Shelley takes every cause to heart but appears unable to acknowledge the pain caused to Mary (now his wife) by the ever-present self-centred Claire. It is challenging to blend historical facts with fictional emotions but Ms Burdon manages it superbly.
The pace of the novel is well-balanced and the author has clearly researched her subject thoroughly. She gives us glimpses of incidents of the time, including the Spa Field Riots of 1816, as well as the Peterloo Massacre and the Pentrich Rising of 1817. References to the couple’s work are cleverly interspersed throughout which also anchors this tale in its place in history.
Ultimately, this is a love story with the underlying themes being the belief the couple have in each other’s talent as well as their independence of mind. I would recommend "Almost Invincible" to anyone with an interest in Mary Shelley or who likes historical family drama. I found this novel compelling and award it five stars.
Reviewed by Julie at Whispering Stories Book Blog.
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Title: Almost Invincible
Author: Suzanne Burdon