Review: Mary Shelley and the curse of Frankenstein (The Monsters)
Book: Mary Shelley and the curse of Frankenstein
Author (s): Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler
Pages: 323 (not including bibliography, notes, reading group guide, Q & A section and suggestions for further reading)
Rating: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED reading book
One murky night in 1816, on the shores of Lake Geneva, the celebrated English poet Lord Byron challenged his friends to a contest – to see who could write the best ghost story. The assembled group included the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley; his lover (and future wife) Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin; Mary’s stepsister Claire Clairmont; and Byron’s physician, John William Polidori. The famous result was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a work that has retained its hold on the popular imagination for almost two centuries. Less well known was the curious Polidori’s’ contribution: the first vampire novel.
The evening begat a curse, too: within a few years of Frankenstein’s publication, nearly all of those involved met untimely deaths. Drawing upon letters, rarely tapped archives, and their own magisterial rereading of Frankenstein, Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler have written a rip-roaring tale of obsession and creation.
Review (More like discussion)
Hello and Assalamualaikum! Todays’ review post will be slightly different as I will not be giving any ratings for this book. Why? This is because the book is based on real people and their lives and you can’t put ratings on that can you? So instead I will be putting the ratings as ‘recommended reads’ so on and so forth. So, let’s get started!
To be quite honest the reason why ‘Revolution’ did not impress me as much was because of this book (I was reading multiple books again at the same time, a habit of mine apparently). In my mind, this book totally blew my socks, my mind and my sanity away (an exaggeration but it sure felt that way).
This book started out with an epilogue of sorts where it describes the conception for the titular character, Frankenstein, and a less famous character, Lord Ruthven and how these two characters changed or inspired future literary works. Then, for chapter one, we are brought way back to the life of Mary Shelley’s’ mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, and this sets the pace for the rest of the book where the narration would jump from different characters at different times only for said event to cause another. This confused me somewhat as I had expected that it would straight away solely start with Mary Shelley’s’ life and the other people in her life to be mere sub-characters instead but as I read on I understood that to understand Mary Shelley I also had to know and read about the people that she surrounded herself with either voluntarily or not.
The narration of the book was in the third person POV which was great because there was so many people in the book of which their story had to be told as short and as concise as possible and I think the writers did a great job with this because not once did I feel bored or felt that the pacing was too fast considering the book was only 300-ish pages long and had to cover from the meeting of Mary Shelley’s’ parents and then towards her death. Also, I understand that this book does not cover every aspect of each of the characters lives instead it focuses more towards how one event caused the start of another and that other aspects of their lives which are not affected or are mundane are cut out to make the story more fluid but it didn’t matter to me because it gave me enough to want to know more. The fact that the authors also included a section of suggestions for further reading in addition to their bibliography was great because it damn straight saved me a lot of time searching for it myself.
The people gathered at Lake Geneva that night, each and every one of them had so much talent for what they did and what they loved but I felt like when God gave them that talent He also gave them flaws to counter and neutralize it. The charisma and personality and talent that these people have are just mind-blowing especially when it concerns Lord Byron. I have never read anything by him or about he but I have heard of writers calling their characters as being Byronic heroes (which I didn’t understand why) so reading for the first time about Lord Byron I was both attracted and repulsed by his character. Attracted because he really was good in poetry and he really was handsome and repulsed because he was just so selfish and vain and arrogant and just plain effin irresponsible where he would leave debts and gossips along his wake yet still have the face to parade around as if he was some reincarnation of god or something.
(some of many portraits of Lord Byron… seriously though he seemed like the Tom Hiddleston/Michael Fassbender/James Mcavoy of the 19th century)
Also, I really empathize with Mary Shelley. To make her voice and her pain heard and known she had written herself as a monster. Who just wanted to be accepted and loved just for who she is not who her parents were or based on looks or whatever but it never came easy for her. Her mother died after she was born, she lived with her cold and distant father and then had to compete with other step-siblings for his attention then married a man who was a womanizer and mainly loved her for who her parents were and then to lose most of her children. Like damn, the woman’s’ life is so sad and filled with sorrow it was no wonder she just wanted to be normal. Her fighting spirit broke after the onslaught of loss after loss after loss.
Seriously if I were to talk about every single character in this book on their gifts and flaws I can write a book. Like really dissect why they did what they did, they make the best characters and I can’t believe the book is talking about their actual lives. Their lives just seem so fantastical and full sorrow at the same time you wonder did it really happen.
Apart from the writing and pacing, both of which the writers did an awesome job I absolutely loved the Q & A section, the reading group guide and suggestions for further reading at the back of the book. These sections at the back of the book I felt like complimented it where I felt like I was in an actual book club and discussing this book with people but in actuality it just me (sad I know). It is as if they knew they hooked me with their story and knew that I would want to know more about the Godwins and the Shelleys and Lord Byron and the likes so they put it in at the end knowing… just knowing I would need it.
This review/discussion is going everywhere. I can’t seem to make up my mind of what to write and also make it short at the same time. So, anyways in conclusion regarding this book I would rate this book as a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED book whether you are interested in historical literary figures or not the book is still a very very enjoyable read.
I will post my answers to the Q & A section bit if only I remember where I put the book. For some reason it just vanished after I wrote this, which annoyed me because I wanted to do my answers right after this review/discussion/rant.