The Determined Heart by Antoinette May
Book Review: 5 out of 5 star rating
I very much enjoyed reading this historical novel centering on the life of Mary Shelley and her creation of Frankenstein. What a tragic life this young woman had and yet after each tragedy, she was able to pull herself up and keep going. Her love for Percy Bysshe Shelley was so deep and yet so bittersweet as she dealt with his many infidelities.
I particularly enjoyed the way the author portrayed Mary’s fascination with the then popular doctrine of vitalism and how an inanimate object might be brought to life. The author very nicely pulls together the events in Mary’s life that bring her to create “Frankenstein” when her friend, Lord Byron, proposed that each of their group write a ghost story. The book was initially published anonymously as the publisher felt that it wouldn’t be well received if it were known that the author was a woman. If only Mary could know how popular “Frankenstein” would become and how it’s still being reprinted to this day. As the author points out in an afterword, Mary Shelley created a whole new genre of literary work – the science fiction novel.
Not only will you learn about Mary Shelley’s life and the lives of her family members, but also Lord Byron, Samuel Coleridge and Aaron Burr are represented in the book. I found every word of this book to be compelling, gripping and heart breaking and the book never lagged for me. I most definitely will be re-reading “Frankenstein” and I also would like to find a copy of “The Last Man”, her apocalyptic novel. Mary Shelley was an extraordinary woman and the author did an excellent job of researching and beautifully portraying her life.
A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher through Net Galley in return for an honest review.