Mary & the Birth of Frankenstein: A Novel (Hardcover)
A novel of innocence, young love, and gothic mystery that is a sapphic reimagining of Mary Shelley’s life, and a wonderfully imaginative exploration of the roots of her literary masterpiece, Frankenstein.
Europe, 1816. A volcanic eruption in Indonesia envelopes the continent in ash and clouds. Amid the gloom of this “year without summer,” eighteen-year-old Mary Shelley, her lover Percy Bysshe Shelley, their baby boy William, and her stepsister Claire visit Lord Byron and his companion John Polidori at Lake Geneva. The friends spend rainy wine-soaked evenings around the fireplace, exchanging ghost stories. One night, Byron issues a challenge to determine which of them can write the best horror story of their own. Musing over her tale, Mary is reminded of another summer, when she was fourteen.
A guest of the Baxter family, Mary arrives in Dundee, Scotland, and quickly falls into a warm friendship with young Isabella Baxter. The girls spend hours together wandering through fields and forests, conjuring stories about mythical Scottish creatures, ghosts, and monsters which roam the lowlands. One day, while deep in the woods, they come upon a real monster, an encounter that leaves them questioning whether the fabulous creatures of their stories are more than just figments of the imagination. As their bond deepens from their secret experience, Mary and Isabella’s feelings for each other intensify.
But the girls do not know that someone has been watching them—the charismatic and vaguely sinister Mr. Booth, Isabella's older brother-in-law, another kind of monster who wears the face of a man.
That memory inspires Mary’s tale—a story that will become one of the most original, thrilling, and influential works of literature ever written. In this beautiful blend of fact and fiction, wonderfully atmospheric and pulsing with emotion, Anne Eekhout brings the legendary writer to life with verve and great imagination.
Anne Eekhout is the author of the novels Dogma, which was nominated for the Bronzen Uil Prize for best debut; One Night, which was nominated for the BNG Literature Prize; and Nicolas and the Disappearance of the World, which was selected as the Best Book for Young Adults. She lives in the Netherlands.