Antoinette May's new novel:

The Determined Heart

THE TALE OF

MARY SHELLY

AND HER

FRANKENSTEIN

Publisher:
Lake Union Publishing


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Look at these Reviews!

TERRI SMITH, LIBRARIAN, 5 STARS
**The Determined Heart By Antoinette May -- pub: Lake Union Publishing

When I saw Mary Shelley's name in the title of this book I knew I must read it. Frankenstein is one of my all-time favorite novels that I have read countless times. I have always been fascinated by the lady who wrote this brilliant novel. Not only do you learn about Mary, her childhood, her family and how she came to meet Shelly you learn how Frankenstein came to be.

The cast of characters that come into her life are on their own merit fascinating as well, Aaron Burr , Coleridge and of course Percy Bysshe Shelley . Byron who I have been obsessed with since my teens is her as well.

The writing is beautiful and captivating. Mary became a real person to me. I felt sadness at her losses and happiness at her triumphs.

This is hands down my favorite novel I have read all year. Infinite love for this beautifully written, fascinating book.
There are not enough stars to rate it.

MATTISSE COVER, WATERSTONES, 4 STARS
**The Determined Heart By Antoinette May -- pub: Lake Union Publishing

Loved this very tragic and touching story! There were so many things about Mary Shelley's life that influenced her life that I had no idea about. Reading about her life as a novel rather than a biography adds a reality and connection that truly enhances the experience.

As heart-wrenching as her story is, I'm glad to have gotten to know Mary Shelley, the woman rather than the writer, better. I couldn't put it down, at first to find out what happened next and then because I didn't want to abandon her. I would thoroughly recommend this tale of perseverance.

ASTRID KAHANE-SEEFELD, LIBRARIAN, 5 STARS
**The Determined Heart By Antoinette May -- pub: Lake Union Publishing

This novel was marvelous. I already knew the main facts about Mary Shelley, but Antoinette May managed to bring into light many interesting details about Mary Shelley which did give me a fresh perspective.

It especially give me new keys to Frankenstein, and to the relation between Mary's life and her writings. Ms. May managed to make the protagonists, be it Mary, Claire, Shelley or Lord Byron very human and somehow likeable, even when seen under their worst light.
I found this book a fascinating read!!!

KATIE S, BLOGGER, 5 STARS
**The Sacred Well By Antoinette May -- pub: Lake Union Publishing

This book follows the life of Mary from age four till age twenty six and I am in love.
I started this book yesterday at 2 pm for an hour and then read it for another couple of hours last night and then finished it this morning.

I feel like Ms. May did a wonderful job capturing who these people were. I've always thought Percy Shelley was a douche. His poetry and infidelities make me angry. Honestly if a man told me he loved Shelley I'd probably never speak to him again. This book clearly made Percy out to be the douche I always knew he was.

I never realized how much Mary Shelley went through in her life and how her depression made her write Frankenstein.
After reading this book I might have to reread Frankenstein and read her other works which I did not know existed until this book.


MARJORIE CUNNINGHAM, BLOGGER, 5 STARS
**The Determined Heart By Antoinette May -- pub: Lake Union Publishing

I very much enjoyed reading this historical novel centering on the life of Mary Shelley and her creation of Frankenstein. What a tragic life this young woman had and yet after each tragedy, she was able to pull herself up and keep going. Her love for Percy Bysshe Shelley was so deep and yet so bittersweet as she dealt with his many infidelities.

I particularly enjoyed the way the author portrayed Mary's fascination with the then popular doctrine of vitalism and how an inanimate object might be brought to life. The author very nicely pulls together the events in Mary's life that bring her to create "Frankenstein" when her friend, Lord Byron, proposed that each of their group write a ghost story. The book was initially published anonymously as the publisher felt that it wouldn't be well received if it were known that the author was a woman. If only Mary could know how popular "Frankenstein" would become and how it's still being reprinted to this day. As the author points out in an afterword, Mary Shelley created a whole new genre of literary work - the science fiction novel.

Not only will you learn about Mary Shelley's life and the lives of her family members, but also Lord Byron, Samuel Coleridge and Aaron Burr are represented in the book. I found every word of this book to be compelling, gripping and heart breaking and the book never lagged for me. I most definitely will be re-reading "Frankenstein" and I also would like to find a copy of "The Last Man", her apocalyptic novel. Mary Shelley was an extraordinary woman and the author did an excellent job of researching and beautifully portraying her life.

DIANE NASH, BLOGGER, 5 STARS
**The Determined Heart By Antoinette May -- pub: Lake Union Publishing
Fascinating and tragic story of Mary Shelley. Well written biographical fiction which I particularly enjoyed.
PAULA DENNAN, BLOGGER, 4 STARS
**The Determined Heart By Antoinette May -- pub: Lake Union Publishing
The daughter of political philosopher William Godwin and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley's (née Godwin) life was bound to be an intriguing one. To describe her life as unconventional would be an understatement.

What Antoinette May does with The Determined Heart: The Tale of Mary Shelley and Her Frankenstein is take the details of Shelley's life and weave them as a fictional narrative that hooks the reader from the beginning.
From a young age it is clear that Mary Godwin's life will be entwined with that of her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, even though Wollstonecraft is dead. Her daughter is clearly intelligent, talented and outspoken like her mother.

When William Godwin remarries, Mary finds herself in constant conflict with her stepmother and stepsister. Life is not as Mary would have hoped, but her father's standing means that she is introduced to an endless array of talented, interesting and often times eccentric people.
One of those people is Percy Bysshe Shelley, whom she falls in love with. He feels the same and despite Bysshe's marital status they run away together, taking Mary's stepsister along with them.
This is a story of love; a story of obsession, a story of betrayal, a story of redemption, a story of loss and coping with loss, a story of regret, a story of marriage, love affairs and the validity of marriage. This is a story about inspiration and creativity. This is the story of how Mary Shelley came to write Frankenstein.

Life is not always easy for Mary and Bysshe. They have been ostracized and face financial crisis on numerous occasions. Bysshe also begins an affair with Claire, Mary's stepsister.
Throughout this time they forge friendships with people like Lord Byron and plan to leave their mark on the world.

Shelley's life is shaped by love and loss. Love for her mother. Love for her father. Love for Bysshe. It is also shaped by loss; loss of her mother, separation from her family, the deaths of three children and the eventual loss of Bysshe.
All the while Shelley is gathering inspiration from things she has seen, read and been told. Inspiration that, prompted by Lord Byron's suggestion that each of their group write a ghost story, would become Frankenstein a novel that is still read and loved today.

This is a story well told, May does a good job of bringing Mary Shelley et al to life. I would recommend this book to two types of people; those who are interested in historical fiction in general and those who wish to learn more about Mary Shelley and how she came to write Frankenstein, progressing the genre of science-fiction, but are not fans of non-fiction.


LORRAINE BERRY, BLOGGER, 4 STARS
**The Determined Heart By Antoinette May -- pub: Lake Union Publishing
The most shocking thing about Mary Shelley, it turns out, is not how a "woman writer" (a term that I hope to see disappear in my lifetime. Isn't it time we were all just writers?) produced one of the most famous books written in English in the Nineteenth Century, but how Mary Shelley managed to write anything in a life so full of tumult and chaos. In Antoinette May's telling of the life of Shelley, she has no need for adding events to Shelley's life to create a compelling story; the problem confronted by May is how to tell Shelley's life without the reader feeling that she has been submerged in some pulp novel?

I must admit that after the third or fourth bizarre turn of events I began thinking that May was going out of her way to create plot points in order to hold my interest. So, I looked up some online biographies of Shelley and learned that May had added nothing. Mary Shelley, her husband Bysshe (pronounced "Bish" for those of us who have looked at the poet's name and only guessed at its pronunciation), her step-sister Claire, and Lord Byron lived a life that would have made proponents of free love in the 1960s blush.

May leads us into Shelley's life from the beginning. While I knew that her mother, the brilliant feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, died giving birth to her, and that Wollstonecraft herself had lived what some may call a "scandalous" life, I had no idea what became of Shelley after that. Other than that she had conceived the novel of her Modern Prometheus after a weekend produced a literary bet among a famous group of friends.

May shows us that much, much more comprised Shelley's life, and that her literary lifetime output was so much more than the one novel. Antoinette May has put the author back in the center of her own life. She puts to rest any idea that Shelley's production of *Frankenstein* was a one-off fluke. Shelley was a stunning, original thinker who wrote incessantly, despite a series of tragedies in her twenties that would have broken a lesser person.

In May's hands, Shelley becomes a woman whose tumultuous emotions match her shambolic home lives, first as the daughter of William Godwin, the famous philosopher who, feeling inept as a widowed father, marries a woman who insists on being called Mum long before Mary is ready to take her into her heart; and then as the wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley, the poetic genius who betrays his wife to take up with the teenaged Mary.

My recommendation for readers is to set aside time to read THE DETERMINED HEART. Once it is started, it's hard to walk away from. So many things occurred in Mary Shelley's life that one can't help anticipating that something momentous is just a few pages away.

May is to be commended for her devotion to her heroine in this crack tale. I will be happy to tell friends to curl up with THE DETERMINED HEART on a cold weekend this fall. It won't be hard to imagine themselves in the hue and cry of the London streets, or feel the sharp loneliness of the Italian coast in the wake of the tragedies that wrecked there.

And, of course, after finishing Antoinette May's book, don't be surprised to find yourself hankering to read some of Shelley's oeuvre. While FRANKENSTEIN is always worth re-reading, given what she experienced, Shelley's other works deserve more than to be shut up, forgotten, in the Arctic of the stacks.

More books by Antoinette May
Pilates Wife: A Novel of Ancient Rome
The Sacred Well Two American reporters from different eras caught up in Mexican intrigue.

Latest novel The Sacred Well

Witness to War:
A Biography of Marguerite Higgins
Passionate Pilgrim: Extraordinary Life of Alma Reed
Helen Hunt Jackson:
A Lonely Voice of Conscience
Adventures of a Psychic

42 weeks on NY Times List
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Voices of Seattle: Speaking Out from the City by the Bay
Voices of Seattle: Speaking Out from the Emerald City
 

 

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