Hideous Love: The Story of the Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein


An all-consuming love affair.

A family torn apart by scandal.

A young author on the brink of greatness.

Hideous Love is the fascinating story of gothic novelist Mary Shelley, who as a teen girl fled her restrictive home only to find herself in the shadow of a brilliant but moody boyfriend, famed poet Percy Shelley. It is the story of the mastermind behind one of the most ...

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Hideous Love: The Story of the Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein

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An all-consuming love affair.

A family torn apart by scandal.

A young author on the brink of greatness.

Hideous Love is the fascinating story of gothic novelist Mary Shelley, who as a teen girl fled her restrictive home only to find herself in the shadow of a brilliant but moody boyfriend, famed poet Percy Shelley. It 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.

Mary wrote Frankenstein at the age of nineteen, but inspiration for the monster came from her life—the atmospheric European settings she visited, the dramas swirling around her, and the stimulating philosophical discussions with the greatest minds of the period, like her close friend Lord Byron.

This luminous verse novel from award-winning author Stephanie Hemphill reveals how Mary Shelley became one of the most celebrated authors in history.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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)
“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
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
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.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061853319
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/1/2013
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,406,955
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

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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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 11, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Alright. This book is way more than what I thought it be. For su

    Alright. This book is way more than what I thought it be. For sure, I love the writing. But the characters had my stomach in knots.

    Love: Let me tells you the way this love is hideous. This love is doomed from the start. And iffy guy attracted to a young girl, romance moves fast. Oh and did I mention he is STILL married and has a child on the way while he is pursuing her. Yup.Cause he is. And I knew as soon as she feel for his antics there was no going back. This love isn’t one I enjoyed but really cringed at. There were so many underlying lies and betrayals, yet once she was married to this man she looks the other way. I mean, in this time period you have too. She is woman and women in that time period solely relied on their husbands. But man, I felt sorry for this girl and what she went through.

    Plot: This story is told in verse form. Like a poem. So it was a quick read for me. Each poem was written beautifully with full detail of what is happening in her life. From her courtship, to marriage, to giving birth, to struggles that any married couple goes through. Still, I think had this girl not been so infatuated with this man, she could of saved herself a lot of heartache.

    Frankenstein: Because of that heartache, she is fueled to write. And write she does. She creates this magnificent story that goes on to successful. Even more successful than what she every thought.

    Overall, I enjoyed this story. Though I would of preferred a more detail story rather than verse form. I mean, it does give good detail in verse but I think in a novel form it would have been richer. If you like verse form with plenty of drama, check this book out. Hideous Love is good.

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