Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poets and Monsters, 25 Dec 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Vampyre Family: Passion, Envy and The Curse of Byron (Hardcover)
The events at the Villa Diodati in the summer of 1816 read, appropriately enough perhaps, like something from a Gothic novel: a mad tale of brilliant poets, ghost stories, violent storms, sublime mountainous landscapes and heated sexual intrigue. The focal point for the events, somewhat inevitably given his fame and reputation, was Lord Byron who had rented the villa after fleeing certain marital difficulties at home. Travelling with him was his physician, John Polidori and in hot pursuit was a former lover, Claire Clairmont, travelling together with her step-sister Mary Godwin and Mary's lover Percy Shelley. It was all unavoidably, as they finally met up on the banks of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, going to end with something of a bang.

The Vampyre Family is a fascinating book, not least because it provides a new angle on a familiar story. Anyone with an interest in the Romantics will know that the events at the Villa Diodati - with the fireside discussions of galvanism and ghost stories on the one hand and the intoxicating mixture of sexual tension and incessant thunder storms on the other - ultimately led to the writing of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein and Polidori's short story The Vampyre; two works which have fascinated and influenced subsequent generations ever since. What The Vampyre Family does brilliantly however is address in detail the events leading up to the summer of 1816 together with the aftermath for those who were there. Byron, as is always the case with Byron, steals the show but Polidori and Claire Clairmont in particular emerge from the book as rounded, passionate, flawed and very human characters. Giving such prominence to Claire in particular adds considerable depth to the tale itself and allows for a fresh perspective on the behaviour of Byron (usually fairly bad); Polidori (star-struck, jealous but with character and passion); Mary Shelley (not always the saint) and Percy Shelley (likeable, brilliant, but not always of much practical use).

I loved this book. It is well-researched and beautifully written (in particular I liked all of the little character sketches which brought to life even the most peripheral characters - the hack writer John Mitford for example, an alcoholic so derelict he apparently only ate cheese and onions, washed his clothes in a pond and regularly spent the nights asleep in a field). Also by giving John Polidori and Claire Clairmont equal billing with their more famous contemporaries the book achieves a beautiful balance between dazzling literary endeavour and human pain, regret and suffering. The events at the Villa Diodati form a familiar tale of course but I have never before seen them given such an elegant and insightful rendering as they have received here. Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

5.0 out of 5 stars (1 customer review)
5 star:
 (1)
4 star:    (0)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
25.00 17.00
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Location: London

Top Reviewer Ranking: 584