This is one of the ARCS (Advanced Review Copy) I have been most excited about to read. This is a nonfiction biographical story about Mary Shelley the author of one of the most infamous characters in literary history Frankenstein. DISCLAIMER: I have very read Frankenstein! However I am familiar with the tale and how groundbreaking this story was for it’s time and its lasting impact on our culture. The book accounts Mary’s young life and the loss of her mother at a very young age and her relationship growing up with her father and step-mother and half and step siblings. The era of the early 1800 in Europe is very intriguing and adds to the love of this book. Social customs and norms are different but yet the same during this time period. The roles of women were more marginalized but we see the glimpse of early feminism and women proving to be as capable as men during this time. Mary’s young adult life can be summed up in one word, scandalous. She falls in love with a married man and gallivants across Europe without a care in the world with her “husband,” Percy Shelley. Divorces were extremely rare and expensive so the couple acted as if they were married as they travel even though they were technically married. Mary’s parents were completely mortified by their life style and that her “husband” who was an adamant atheists considered a crime during that time, lived. Even though Mary’s father boasted about people’s right to live outside of social norms of the time he was ashamed of the way his daughters was living.
The book also shows the hurt and heartache Mary suffered when childhood friends shunned her because of her lifestyle and the loss of children. Her writing style was very unique during this time not just for a woman writer but for any writer. Percy had an unnatural way with words through his poetry that attacked many readers including famous Lord Byron.
The book read like a novel with all making of a great story. Mary and her husband lived like famous celebrities traveling all over Europe moving from place to place without a care in the world. In many ways I found myself comparing them to lives of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. Lots of drama and gossips surround their life but they had a following of devoted friends that admired their lifestyle. This book was hard to put down. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the author and how her life created not only Frankenstein but other great literary works too. Many of her other writings were too controversial to publish during her time but were published many years later. As much as I enjoyed this book, I don’t feel 7th and 8th grade students will check out and read it. So I am sad to admit that it wouldn’t fit well in our collection. However if we ever decide to have our students read and study her writings it will be the first book I will recommend to a student who loved her book. Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Hardourt Books for Young Readers for the advanced copy and I look forward to reading and reviewing more.
Review of Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd