Publisher: Lake Union Publishing.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours
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The Determined Heart reveals the life of Mary Shelley in a story of love and obsession, betrayal and redemption.
The daughter of political philosopher William Godwin and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley had an unconventional childhood populated with the most talented and eccentric personalities of the time. After losing her mother at an early age, she finds herself in constant conflict with a resentful stepmother and a jealous stepsister. When she meets the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, she falls deeply in love, and they elope with disastrous consequences. Soon she finds herself destitute and embroiled in a torturous love triangle as Percy takes Mary’s stepsister as a lover. Over the next several years, Mary struggles to write while she and Percy face ostracism, constant debt, and the heartbreaking deaths of three children. Ultimately, she achieves great acclaim for Frankenstein, but at what cost? - Goodreads
Mary Wollstonecraft is my GIRL. If you haven't read A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, you need to get on that immediately. Her daughter, Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein is also a badass. Which is why I really wanted to read this fictionalized account of Shelley's life, despite not normally being a historical fiction reader. Despite being a fan of her mom, I really didn't know much about Mary Jr.'s life apart from a little of her affair/marriage with Percy Shelley. But I learned a lot from this book.
Mary Shelley's is a tragic tale, rife with heartbreak and complicated relationships. Her homeboy/lover Percy was basically the biggest player of all time (if we ignore Lord Byron for a minute). He'd be writing her poetry one minute and the next he was knocking up her stepsister. RUDE. But he was really into free love, because he's a poet, so she sort of knew what she was signing up for when she ran away with him at age 16 (did I mention he was married to someone else at the time?). Throughout their crazy life and travels together, things keep getting worse for Mary. She has a horrible stepmother, most of her children die, etc. It was devastating to watch her go through all of this, but it was also fascinating to see what shaped her character and her writing.
All in all, this was an alright read, because I was interested in the subject at hand. But the book definitely felt longer than it needed to be. I thoroughly hated all of the characters (which is probably due to them being historically bad/annoying individuals). Sometimes the references to things that would influence Mary Shelley's idea for Frankenstein felt a little heavy handed, and I couldn't help but roll my eyes. Neither the writing nor the plot blew me away. Also, the gang kept finding chateaus to rent within a couple days of arriving in a new country despite being broke, improper poets, which made me furious on a very personal level. I guess I was born at the wrong time. I'll try not to take that out on the book.
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Thanks to TLC Book Tours for giving me a copy of The Determined Heart in exchange for an honest review. Check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and chances to win a copy here!