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The Monsters


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Dorothy and Tom Hoobler have written more than 80 books for adults, young adults, and children, and have received numerous awards from library, educational, and cultural organizations. Their ten-book series for Oxford University Press, The American Family Albums, has gone through several printings and has been used as premiums for PBS television fund-raising drives throughout the United States.


In this absorbing biography, the Hooblers, historians and children's authors (The American Family Albums), chronicle the turbulent life of Mary Shelley (1797-1851), author of the classic gothic novel, Frankenstein. They open with a moving sketch of the life of her famous mother, feminist rebel writer Mary Wollstonecraft, who died 11 days after giving birth to Mary. Sixteen-year-old Mary eloped to France, in 1814, with the freethinking Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Effectively surrounded by egotistical and rapacious "monsters" such as Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, a new mother at 19, penned the tale of Frankenstein in response to a challenge set by Byron to guests at his Swiss villa. The Hooblers amply relate how the themes of Mary Shelley's masterpiece correspond to her life. Portraying Mary Shelley's stoic endurance of trauma and loss- two of her children died early-the Hooblers describe her final misery when Percy Shelley drowned while she was still in her early 20s. Summarizing Mary's other novels and recounting how she championed Shelley's posthumous literary reputation while raising her remaining son to conventional manhood, the Hooblers' well-crafted biography will appeal to all who wish to learn more about the conception of Frankenstein and its enigmatic author. 8 pages of b&w photos. (May 22) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"I cannot live without loving and being loved-without sympathy-if this is denied to me I must die." Mary Shelley recorded this entry in her journal five years after the death of her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley. This statement echoes the lament of the monster in her novel, Frankenstein, "I was wretched, helpless and alone," leading the Hooblers ("The American Family Albums" series) to establish a connection between the author and the monster she created. "Mary knew its feelings well," they argue, "for its life story parallels her own." Although the creation of Frankenstein has been well documented, the Hooblers vividly and effectively set the scene for Lord Byron's challenge to Shelley and other group members to write a ghost story as a contest. They sympathetically portray Shelley and her yearning for love, her writing, her turbulent family life, and her loyalty to her husband's memory. Although the focus is on Shelley herself, those to whom she was close-including her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft; her father, William Godwin; and her husband-all make appearances, as do other characters central to that drama, among them Lord Byron, Claire Clairmont, and John Polidori. Excerpts from the letters and journals of each of these figures are used to substantiate and extend the narrative. The prose is informal and occasionally satiric. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-Kathryn R. Bartelt, Univ. of Evansville, ID Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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