**I received a free copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review**
After drawing her readers into each chapter with a literary quote, the author uses references from Greek mythology as well as devices such as alliteration, metaphors and similes which build each scene for her characters’ interactions to unfold. I particularly liked the anthropomorphism of ‘London stretching its early morning limbs’.
We witness some of Mary’s experiences which subsequently influenced the plot in Frankenstein, as the bohemian family continue their nomadic life in Europe. Whilst they are plagued by a series of misfortunes, they find a measure of contentment among the expat community in Italy, along with some local and international intelligentsia.
We sympathise with Mary as she continues to struggle with her nemesis. The altruistic, philanthropic and unworldly Shelley takes every cause to heart but appears unable to acknowledge the pain caused to Mary (now his wife) by the ever-present self-centred Claire. It is challenging to blend historical facts with fictional emotions but Ms Burdon manages it superbly.
The pace of the novel is well-balanced and the author has clearly researched her subject thoroughly. She gives us glimpses of incidents of the time, including the Spa Field Riots of 1816, as well as the Peterloo Massacre and the Pentrich Rising of 1817. References to the couple’s work are cleverly interspersed throughout which also anchors this tale in its place in history.
Ultimately, this is a love story with the underlying themes being the belief the couple have in each other’s talent as well as their independence of mind. I would recommend "Almost Invincible" to anyone with an interest in Mary Shelley or who likes historical family drama. I found this novel compelling and award it five stars.
Reviewed by Julie at Whispering Stories Book Blog.
The life and creativity of Mary Shelley continues to fascinate long after her death. In this version of her life, we are given a close glimpse into the people that helped shape her destiny - how the death of her writer mother impacted her, how her love for Percy Bysshe sucked her into a lower status and a bit of a debauched social life, her relationship with Lord Byron, and the responsibility she carried for her step-sister Claire Clairmont. Her loves, her sources for inspiration, and her talents are highlighted in wonderful detail.
The book's pace is slow, but it is a biographical and is to be expected because of the research and details that have been included. Mary was not afraid to break with convention and face scandal. I think it is this that fascinates readers because she is of the Victorian era with strict morals and social norms. If you're looking for an accurate, rich, and descriptive biography about Shelley, then this is the book to read! Very well done!
Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
“Provocative and profound, with brilliant characterisation, Suzanne Burdon’s dazzling novel, 'Almost Invincible' skilfully blends fact and fiction into a realistic portrayal of some of the mysteries and day-to-day events surrounding Mary Shelly’s life!” Catherine Rose Putsche
Almost Invincible is a fictional telling of Mary Shelly’s life based on true events. The story opens on a stormy and turbulent night in the summer of 1816 at Lord Bryon’s villa in Lake Geneva. Lord Byron challenges all his guests, Shelley, Claire Clairmont, Mary and Dr. Polidori to write ghost stories and this is where Mary produces a terrifying story that will later become, Frankenstein, eventually assuring Mary a permanent place in literary history. The story then goes on to document Mary’s ignominious love affair with Percy Bysshe Shelley, who is married with children at the time of their elopement and follows the couple around England, Switzerland, France and Italy, where they experience a number of traumas such as being ostracised due to their controversial life choices, financial worries and the death of their children, and Mary’s manipulative step-sister, who drives Mary to despair on many occasions.
Burdon has crafted a beautiful story full of adventure, strength and survival of a real-life heroine who despite suffering with misfortune in her life is one of the most influential female geniuses of her time.
I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book is a fictional telling of Mary Shelley‘s life from about the time when she met Percy Shelley in 1814 until he died in 1822. This book is a fiction novel but is based upon their true story of true love that stood the test of my obstacles. From the loss of 4 children to the unending interference of Mary’s step-sister Claire to the fact that Percy was already married when they met, Mary and Percy’s love was not easily formed or maintained but it was true and deep. I thought this ended up being a wonderful love story wrapped up in a mini-drama. The book chronicles different periods of time in the Shelley’s lives during which they traveled to Switzerland, France, and Italy. Mary’s step-sister Claire tags along from the beginning, mostly because she thinks she is also in love with Shelley but also because she can’t stand to let Mary have any fun/happiness. Claire as a character was just so easy to hate and, at very few times, also to pity. Mary and Shelley’s story was also full of other well-known and not-so well-known people of the time, including Lord Byron, Leigh Hunt, and Edward Williams. Shelley always felt best when surrounded by people who sympathized with his plights and his tribulations. Overall I enjoyed this book a lot, it was packed full of interesting characters. It became a little frustrating that Mary could never seem to catch a break and honestly Shelley was a bit too naive for my tastes. He kept thinking that his first wife Harriet would come live with him and Mary as friends and bring his children to live with them all and they would just be one big happy family. He couldn’t understand why that was not only illogical but completely unreasonable. His naivete became almost charming by the end though, mostly because in reality he is just an endless optimist who only wanted to make every one around him happy. And while at times he could be insensitive to Mary’s feeling son certain subjects, his deep esteem and affection for her was obvious and touching. The plot line of the story was well paced and honestly I didn’t want to put it down. I thought this was a great story and I would recommend it!
A great historical read! Suzanne Burdon uses an extensive list of historical sources to create an engaging fictional biography about the life of Mary Shelley. Learn how she eloped at 16 with her future husband and the events that influenced her literary genius - Frankenstein!
remarkable insight into the lives of the Shelley's. It is a totally absorbing book that is so well written - the research is meticulous and I just wanted to keep reading it. Can't recommend it more highly.
This book is a terrific read. I have bought numerous copies as gifts for family and friends. If it wasn’t based on real people and actual events, it would make a wonderful work of fiction. But it is about real people who lived extraordinary lives. It only takes a couple of chapters of important scene setting to get going and then it takes off.
The story is told beautifully and makes for riveting reading. The characters jump off the page and the descriptions of locations and settings are captivating. The characters have so much of interest to say and it is if the author had a tape recorder hidden away with the Shelley entourage – such is the texture and intricacy of the dialogue.
Not being one to love historical books, I found this book absolutely charming and engaging. I have no doubt the author spent a lot of time researching the background and characters as one feels transported back to another era.
So atmospheric, you are in the room with these famous people, feeling what they are feeling, looking at events through their eyes and seeing why they did what they did and said what they said. A rare quality for an historical work!! The author has worked so hard to research the period and the specific events, the evidence both written and physical, this shows in the way you are transported into Shelley's world. It is a great read.