Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Lady and Her Monsters

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 94.

The Lady and Her Monsters: A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankensteins, and the Creation of Mary Shelley's Masterpiece by Roseanne Montillo

Summary (excerpted from the book jacket):
This nonfiction book recounts how Mary Shelley's Victor Frankenstein mirrored actual scientists of the period.  Shelley and her contemporaries were artists, poets, and philosophers, united in captivation with the occultists and daring scientists risking their reputations and their immortal souls to advance our understanding of human anatomy and medicine.
These remarkable investigations could not be undertaken without the cutthroat grave robbers who prowled cemeteries for a supply of fresh corpses.  The newly dead were used for both private and very public autopsies and dissections, as well as the most daring trials of all: attempts at human reanimation through the application of electricity.
Juxtaposing monstrous mechanization and rising industrialism with the sublime beauty and decadence of the legendary Romantics who defined the age, Montillo takes us into the world where poets became legends in salons and boudoirs; where fame-hungry "doctors" conduct shocking performances for rabid, wide-eyed audiences; and where maniacal body snatchers secretly toil in castle dungeons.

My Opinion:
I started this book November 5 and just finished today.  The book is less than 300 pages.  That in and of itself is a pretty good indicator of how I feel about this book.
One of the consequences of random reading (and always finishing the books I start) is that a book I pick up on a whim can very quickly turn out to be a book that's not for me.  I can't fault the author.  Well, maybe I can fault the author a little...the second half of the book was very interesting and full of "fun facts" but I had become so bogged down by the details of the first half that I didn't enjoy it as much as I could have.
On the nonfiction spectrum, this is closer to the "textbook" side than the "reads like fiction but happens to be true" side.  This is not a criticism, just a note to those who consider reading it.

Quote from the Book:
"As the weeks passed, the critics continued to speculate that either Godwin [Mary's father] or Shelley [Mary's husband] had written Frankenstein.  In a way, they were right and wrong at the same time.  By birth and marriage, Mary was both a Godwin and a Shelley." ~ one of the things I learned from this book - Frankenstein was originally published anonymously.

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