Friday, November 6, 2015

The Determined Heart: The Tale of Mary Shelley and her Frankenstein

Mary Shelley is most famous for the enduring classic novel, Frankenstein. But who was Mary Shelley and how did a 19th century woman write such a story, one that would transcend generations? 

Storytelling came to her honestly. She was the daughter of two of England's most prominent writers: William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, but never knew her mother who died two days after giving birth to her.  

When she was sixteen, she ran off with a married man, but not just any married man - the renowned poet Percy Shelley who became her greatest love, despite all his faults, one of which was his love affair with Mary's half-sister.  

Mary and Percy travelled about Europe. They joined the scandalous poet Lord Byron in Switzerland. Lord Byron, a well known rogue and ladies man, led a debauched life, which had an impact on Mary and Percy. During their time together, the writers challenged each other to see who could write the most compelling horror story. Little did they know that Mary, unpublished and unknown, would be the hands down winner. 

Meanwhile, Percy's wife, devastated at being abandoned by her husband, committed suicide by jumping into a lake and drowning. Nevertheless, Percy and Mary got hitched not long thereafter. 

Mary finished writing Frankenstein at the age of twenty and the book was published anonymously when she was 20. The literary critics of the day gave bad reviews, but the public at large loved it, especially more so after it had been developed into plays. 

Sadness and grief plagued Mary for most of her short life. She gave birth to four children, but sadly, they all died except for one. Then, before she and Percy turned 30, Percy died when his boat sank. She never fell in love again and never remarried. She spent her days writing until she died at the age of 53 of a brain tumor.

Author Antoinette May has written deeply emotional and detailed account of Mary Shelley's life in the novel, THE DETERMINED HEART: THE TALE OF MARY SHELLEY AND HER FRANKENSTEIN.

The Determined Heart reveals the life of Mary Shelley in a story of love and obsession, betrayal and redemption. 

The daughter of political philosopher William Godwin and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley had an unconventional childhood populated with the most talented and eccentric personalities of the time. After losing her mother at an early age, she finds herself in constant conflict with a resentful stepmother and a jealous stepsister. When she meets the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, she falls deeply in love, and they elope with disastrous consequences. Soon she finds herself destitute and embroiled in a torturous love triangle as Percy takes Mary’s stepsister as a lover. Over the next several years, Mary struggles to write while she and Percy face ostracism, constant debt, and the heartbreaking deaths of three children. Ultimately, she achieves great acclaim for Frankenstein, but at what cost?


Antoinette May has re-envisioned Mary's life in a most comprehensive and compelling way. She brings to life the famous poets who were integral to Mary's life, namely Percy Bysshe Shelly and Lord Byron. In doing so, she shows us the darker side of these famous men, their human failings as well as their genius talents. The writing of Frankenstein is not foremost in the novel. Rather, the reader discovers the elements of Mary's life that gave rise to novel and the monster's creation. 

What I enjoyed about this novel is that the characters were presented without prejudice, leaving the reader to decide whether they liked them or not, including Mary. Secret affairs, obsession, friendship, and debauchery line this novels pages, demonstrating their effects upon the main characters. Congratulations to the author for writing such an indepth biographical fiction novel about this fascinating woman's life. Truly unforgettable!

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Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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