Hideous Love: The Story of the Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein

Hideous Love: The Story of the Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein

by Stephanie Hemphill
     
 

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From Stephanie Hemphill, author of the Printz Honor winner Your Own, Sylvia and the acclaimed novel Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials, comes the fascinating story of gothic novelist Mary Shelley, most famous for the classic Frankenstein.

An all-consuming love affair with famed poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, a family torn apart

Overview

From Stephanie Hemphill, author of the Printz Honor winner Your Own, Sylvia and the acclaimed novel Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials, comes the fascinating story of gothic novelist Mary Shelley, most famous for the classic Frankenstein.

An all-consuming love affair with famed poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, a family torn apart by scandal, a young author on the brink of greatness: Hideous Love is the story of the mastermind behind one of the most iconic figures in all of literature, a monster constructed out of dead bodies and brought to life by the tragic Dr. Frankenstein.

This luminous verse novel reveals how Mary Shelley became one of the most celebrated authors in history.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
09/09/2013
Hemphill’s fictional autobiography-in-verse of Mary Shelley focuses on her domestic life, which makes for a gripping story while diminishing its subject. Mary’s awe for her famous philosopher father sets the stage for her hero-worship of her husband, poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Mary girlishly finds his interest in her flattering, and he leaves his wife to run away with her, scandalizing Mary’s family. Shelley tells Mary she has “great things to write./ It is your lovely fate,” and treats her as an intellectual equal; Hemphill (Wicked Girls) portrays writing and motherhood as Mary’s greatest joys. However, Mary also idealizes Percy despite his clear failings: financial mismanagement, jealous hypochondria during her pregnancies, and a selfish interest in free love, including a likely lengthy affair with her stepsister as they “travel as a threesome/ once again like/ some tiresome, rickety wheelbarrow.” Painting Mary’s feelings about Percy as simplistic devotion, despite his repeatedly appalling behavior, makes her a frustrating character as time goes on. Hemphill’s verse can be elegant, but also jerky and staccato, limiting the story’s complexity and, ironically, Mary’s ability to express herself. Ages 13–up. (Oct)
Booklist
“An ideal companion piece for teens studying the original classic…Hemphill, author of the Printz Honor Book Your Own, Sylvia (2007), manages to plumb from it her own vein of riches.”
ALA Booklist
Praise for WICKED GIRLS: “An excellent supplementary choice for curricular studies of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, this will also find readers outside the classroom, who will savor the accessible, unsettling, piercing lines that connect past and present with timeless conflict and truths.”
School Library Journal
09/01/2013
Gr 8 Up—Hemphill's ability to plumb the depths of an author's pain and despair is evident in this examination of the life of Mary Shelley, best known as the author of Frankenstein and wife of poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. This present-tense novel in verse provides an intimate glimpse into Mary's life. In addition to pondering questions of life and death, Hemphill explores morality, fidelity, creation, and pain. Mary's personal life reads like a soap opera. At age 16, she meets Percy and months later they elope, abandoning his pregnant wife, Harriet. The couple lives throughout Europe and, following Harriet's suicide, eventually marry. Mary's life is filled with emotionally scarring events, including the deaths of her mother, sister, and children, which she feels "like a thousand knives/have been thrust upon me." She also struggles with Percy's flirtations with her stepsister and with her complicated relationship with Lord Byron. Her tempestuous life becomes a catalyst for her writing. "My protagonist, Victor Frankenstein,/builds his creature of graveyard parts/before he sets out to animate it/through science. I construct/my characters beginning with people/I know and then add/or rearrange other aspects of personality/to fit my plot." Readers will identify the parallels between the creation of a monster and the creation of her famous book.—Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-01
A fictionalized verse biography of the tortured genius behind Frankenstein. Hemphill here turns her poetic sights on the young life of 19th-century English prose master Mary Shelley (1797-1851), who famously authored Frankenstein at the tender age of 20. Much as she did with Sylvia Plath (Your Own, Sylvia, 2007), the author explores the particular challenges facing a gifted female artist who allies herself with a renowned male poet. Central to the plot is the parentage of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley, daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, the pioneering feminist philosopher who died days after Mary was born, and William Godwin, a radical political philosopher who espoused free love for all but his daughters. In her father's salon, Mary meets her future husband, budding Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, when she is only 16; he is 21 and married. Though initially finding Percy "fairylike / with the curly blond hair / of a schoolgirl" and "hands frail as silk stockings," Mary soon becomes smitten, especially with the attention Shelley pays her intellect. When her father forbids her to see him, Mary runs off with him, beginning their exile in Europe, which leads to the birth of some of the greatest Romantic literature of the day and a raft of brutal personal tribulations for Mary. A bleak but riveting portrait of the artist as a young woman. (author's note, biographical notes, Shelley bibliography, suggested reading) (Poetry. 13 & up.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061853319
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/01/2013
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
1,228,387
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Stephanie Hemphill is also the award-winning author of Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist; Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book; Sisters of Glass; and Things Left Unsaid: A Novel in Poems. She lives in Chicago, Illinois.

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