Angelmonster

Angelmonster

5.0 1
by Veronica Bennett
     
 

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"Captures all the bliss and folly of Mary Shelley’s disastrous surrender to love, and the sorrowful steps by which she became the author of
Frankenstein." — NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

In 1814, poet Percy Shelley enters the life of young Mary Godwin like an angel of deliverance. Seduced by his radical and romantic ideas, she flees

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Overview

"Captures all the bliss and folly of Mary Shelley’s disastrous surrender to love, and the sorrowful steps by which she became the author of
Frankenstein." — NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

In 1814, poet Percy Shelley enters the life of young Mary Godwin like an angel of deliverance. Seduced by his radical and romantic ideas, she flees with him to Europe, where they mingle with other free-spirited artists and poets. Frowned on by family and society, Mary becomes haunted by hideous visions — and as tragedy strikes, she realizes her dreams have become nightmares, and her angel . . . a monster. Has the time come for Mary Shelley to set her monster free?

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Mary is a rebellious sixteen-year-old who falls passionately in love with the poet Percy Shelley and runs away with him, regardless that he has a wife and two children. Mary comes from a family of free thinkers, however, and her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was very liberal in the areas of religion and sexual relations. In this fictional rendition of Mary Shelley's life, the chronological facts are mostly accurate, but Mary's thoughts and emotions are fictionalized. All her life, Mary is plagued by death—her mother during childbirth, her older sister through suicide, three of her four children plus one miscarriage, and her niece. One death, Shelley's wife, was a mixed blessing as it allowed Mary and Shelley to marry and legalize their children. One of Mary's most famous novels, Frankenstein, was written as a ghost story for her friends and family. In it Victor Frankenstein defies the gods by creating life itself but is later punished by his creation. Was Mary thinking of how her mother created her only to die in the process? Did Mary write Frankenstein because of all the deaths and the fervent belief she could spark the body and return it to life? The story is plausible, but the affairs between Mary and Shelley; Mary's sister, Claire, and the poet, Lord Byron; and Claire and Shelley are for the mature reader. 2005, Candlewick Press, Ages 14 to 18.
—Janet L. Rose
VOYA - Nancy K. Wallace
Headstrong sixteen-year-old Mary Godwin first meets Percy Bysshe Shelley in her father's bookstore. The daughter of unconventional, avant-garde parents, Mary finds the handsome young poet captivating, allowing him to seduce her even though she knows he is already married. Pregnant, she leaves her family and runs away with him, persuading her sister, Jane, to accompany her. Shelley's charming artistic nature delights both girls, so much that they become his "two-headed goddess," participating in a strange mTnage a trois as they travel through Europe. In Italy, Jane becomes Lord Byron's mistress even though he too is married, and both girls bear illegitimate babies to their poet lovers. While Shelley later marries Mary after the suicide of his first wife, Harriet, society still shuns their unorthodox lifestyle. The couple spends most of the time in Italy where Mary loses her first three children in infancy and later Shelley drowns after his sailing boat capsizes. Only after her quixotic husband's death does she realize her own potential. This book is an honest and compassionate examination of the magic and madness of literary genius. Although Shelley's addictions to laudanum, opium, and alcohol corrupt their marriage, Mary emerges as a strong, passionately creative woman, steadfastly in love with her husband although he is both angel and monster. This fictionalized account lends immediacy to prominent literary personalities, providing an excellent focus for book discussions and English classes. The book warrants pushing, and its compelling story will capture the imagination of today's romantics and send them scrambling for additional information.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-This enthralling novel delves into the life of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley during her tempestuous relationship with Percy Bysshe Shelley and explores the basis for writing Frankenstein. While many readers may have heard of the novel, most will be unaware of the underlying theological and philosophical issues with which the author wrestled. Shelley's parents were progressive thinkers, and she was raised to participate in intelligent debate with the poets, novelists, and philosophers of the day. When she was 16, she had an affair with Percy, who was married. Her stepsister accompanied them to Europe, thus beginning a convoluted set of affairs with poet Lord Byron and his friends. The Shelleys faced many tragedies, and both struggled with depression and night terrors. However, the author portrays a great love between them that makes the story as much a romance as a psychological tale. Bennett takes liberty with a couple of events, including when and under what circumstances Frankenstein was written, but, ultimately, readers won't mind. Much as Laurie Halse Anderson does in Speak (Farrar, 1999), the author grabs readers and takes them on a believable journey into a psyche beset with demons.-Cheri Dobbs, Detroit Country Day Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Bennett presents the gloriously scandalous lives of Mary Godwin Shelley and the poet Percy Shelley as a first-person narrative of some power. While one scarce needs to embellish a real-life account so full of sex, drugs, intrigue and intellectual folderol, Bennett does not stick necessarily close to the truth, or what passes for it. At 16, Mary Godwin, whose mother the passionate feminist Mary Wollstonecraft died giving birth to, entrances the beautiful boy poet Shelley, who already has a pregnant teenage wife and a child. Mary's stepsister Jane, who renames herself Claire, eventually is also smitten, not only by Shelley but by his friend George Lord Bryon. Mary, Shelley and Claire repair from the scandal they cause in London to Switzerland and later Italy. Suicide, the death of children and much seduction ensues. It is a wonder that any writing got done at all, but it did, even if Bennett moves the publication of Mary's Frankenstein to after Shelley's death rather than before. Teen readers will be awed at how much debauchery existed in the early 18th century. (Historical fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
George was still watching me. Boldly I looked back at him. Despite his superiority of title, wealth, sex, and age, the words of an eighteen-year-old girl in a sprigged cotton dress had impressed him.

"I have a better idea than cards," he said.

His gaze — penetrating, intelligent, accustomed to his own superiority — never left my face. None of us spoke. George sat forward in his chair. "Shall we all follow Mary’s excellent example," he suggested, "and spend this evening in the company of spirits?"

"Capital idea!" exclaimed Polidori. Then, with a frown, "But what do you actually mean, George?"

"I mean ghost stories," said George. "Let us each tell one, here in the darkness, with the storm raging outside."

My heart was on fire. Many things I had not understood before had linked themselves effortlessly together. Nightmarish visions, dreams that had dogged me day and night for years. The power and glory of the storm. The idea that a scientist might make a creature more monstrous than any God has devised. The earth-shattering possibility that life itself could lie in the ferocity of those sky-sparks that even now crackled their way across the heavens.

_______

ANGELMONSTER by Veronica Bennett. Copyright © 2006 by Veronica Bennett. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763629946
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
05/09/2006
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.89(d)
Lexile:
850L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

George was still watching me. Boldly I looked back at him. Despite his superiority of title, wealth, sex, and age, the words of an eighteen-year-old girl in a sprigged cotton dress had impressed him.

"I have a better idea than cards," he said.

His gaze — penetrating, intelligent, accustomed to his own superiority — never left my face. None of us spoke. George sat forward in his chair. "Shall we all follow Mary’s excellent example," he suggested, "and spend this evening in the company of spirits?"

"Capital idea!" exclaimed Polidori. Then, with a frown, "But what do you actually mean, George?"

"I mean ghost stories," said George. "Let us each tell one, here in the darkness, with the storm raging outside."

My heart was on fire. Many things I had not understood before had linked themselves effortlessly together. Nightmarish visions, dreams that had dogged me day and night for years. The power and glory of the storm. The idea that a scientist might make a creature more monstrous than any God has devised. The earth-shattering possibility that life itself could lie in the ferocity of those sky-sparks that even now crackled their way across the heavens.

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