The Lady and Her Monsters: A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankensteins, and the Creation of Mary Shelley’s Masterpiece

Roseanne Montillo, Author
Roseanne Montillo. Morrow, $26.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-202581-4
Reviewed on: 10/15/2012
Release date: 02/01/2013
Paperback - 322 pages - 978-0-06-202583-8
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-06-223588-6
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Montillo’s debut, a macabre romp through 18th and 19th century Europe, illuminates the circumstances and inspiration behind one of gothic literature’s most notorious tales. Walking a fine line between historical fact and logical conjecture, the book deftly weaves details of Mary Shelley’s early life into the cultural and scientific map of the time in which she was writing. Grim body snatchers, cadaver-carving surgeons, and nefarious alchemists litter the pages. In her retelling of the genesis story of Frankenstein, Montillo offers a constellation of personalities that surrounded Shelley during her hasty writing of the tale. Heavily referencing letters and personal journals, Montillo analyzes Shelley’s literary cohorts, providing insight into the motives of her famous literary companions, the haunted Percy Shelley and womanizing Lord Byron. The picture painted provides much room for speculation, stripping long-embellished versions of the story down to the verifiable facts. Who really gave Shelley the technical know-how to write what she did? What were the true origins of her long-standing depression? Fraught with suicides, superstitions, natural disasters, and love affairs, the life of Mary Shelley shares much emotionally with the harrowing tale of her great protagonist, Victor Frankenstein. A delicious and enticing journey into the origins of a masterpiece. Illus. Agent: Rob Weisbach, Rob Weisbach Creative Management. (Feb.)
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