Paperback: 410 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (September 29, 2015)
Frankenstein lives on as one of the most fascinating fictional creations of all time, but the true personal story of the women behind this work of genius is equally as compelling. In her new historical novel, The Determined Heart: The Tale of Mary Shelley and Her Frankenstein (Lake Union Publishing; September 29, 2015), New York Times bestselling author Antoinette May brings to life the tragic story of obsessive love, betrayal, and redemption that spawned an enduring classic. In a story more dramatic and tragic than anything a writer could invent, the lives of Mary Shelley, her great love, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and her complex web of family and friends entwine in a chronicle of strange behavior, bohemian attitudes, and unconventional acts as far ahead of their time as the amazing literary work that grew from them.
Mary Godwin Shelley was the daughter of two revolutionary thinkers—political philosopher William Godwin and philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. An unconventional childhood in an intellectual, if impecunious household would shape the young girl’s renegade spirit. When still a teenager, she ran off with the already-married poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, an act of equal parts passion and defiance that led to a life of wandering destitution. Espousing free love, the couple would endure its share of tragedies, each of which would add to their romantic legacy. From the darkness that surrounded her life, though, the brilliant and talented Mary imagined a timeless work of fiction that secured her place in history, if not her happiness.
The Determined Heart is a masterful work of historical fiction that reanimates the timeless story of an iconic literary life.
“Epic in scope, this is a beautifully written novel about a woman whose story is every bit as extraordinary and gripping as that of the epic character she created, Frankenstein. May’s meticulous research and exquisite prose shine on every page.” —Erika Mailman, author of The Witch’s Trinity and Woman of Ill Fame
“May displays a deft flair for historical fiction…” –BookList on Pilate’s Wife, A Novel of the Roman Empire
Mary was drawn to her poet love from an early age and fought against convention to be with him. Their relationship had extreme highs and lows, and during their time together, she created a manuscript that would become Frankenstein.
Epic in scope, this story details Mary's life. Although I must admit I was around 35% on the Kindle version before I felt fully committed to the story, I then found myself captivated. At times, I wanted to throw the Kindle across the room from frustration and pure sadness. But I couldn't help but continue to read, completely enthralled with this woman's life.
She was foolish in love but so resilient and brilliant in other matters. With all her losses, I'm amazed she managed to continue. Equally, my heart broke for her step-sisters. Devastation seemed to touch everyone involved with Percy, yet so many were compelled to be in his life.
I do wish, however, that more about her writing had been highlighted. Then again, I find particular interest in what drives an author.
This book is an emotional roller coaster of epic proportions. Yet, there's something so irresistible about it. Much like Mary to Percy, I couldn't help but stay the course and hope for the best.
Overall, it's a real winner. Just don't give up during the slower first third of the book.
Rating: 4 stars
About the Author
Antoinette May is the author of Pilate’s Wife and The Sacred Well and coauthor of the New York Timesbestseller Adventures of a Psychic.
An award-winning travel writer specializing in Mexico, May divides her time between Palo Alto and the Sierra foothills.
You can connect with her on her website.
Thanks to TLC for my review copy.
Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.
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