Today, we have a special treat in the form of a guest blog post from Author Suzanne Burdon, who wrote Almost Invincible: A Biographical Novel of Mary Shelley, Author of Frankenstein.
BEHIND THE BOOK
Don't leave me alone with her. She's been the bane of my life since I was three years old!'' These were the words of Mary Shelley to her daughter in law, who kindly proposed giving Mary, then in her 50s, some time with her visiting step sister.
I read this some four years ago and found it so intriguing, that it led me on a fascinating journey into the early 19th century. What could have caused such vehemence? Why was Mary so anxious about being alone with her stepsister? I knew little of Mary Shelley. Like many people, I was vaguely aware that she had written Frankenstein when she was quite young. I knew also that she was married to the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.
That is when I discovered that I am an obsessive researcher. As a sociologist, most of my working life has been spent conducting market and social research and when I started reading Mary’s story there were many aspects of it that resonated strongly with modern life. It was operatic - even a soap opera! There were more scandals, deaths, tortured relationships, loves and losses than in several seasons of Desperate Housewives. Through it all there was Mary, a strong but also vulnerable young woman in socially unsympathetic times. I glimpsed someone who was a teenage rebel, grieving mother, determined author, and long suffering lover of a man well ahead of his time. I wanted to get to know her better, and especially to understand the insidious and damaging influence of her step-sister, Claire
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Social researcher, academic and author Suzanne Burdon's research for Almost Invincible has been extensive. She travelled to the UK, the US and Europe to maintain the authenticity of the story. The book whilst factually based, beautifully imagines the emotions, conversations, and some of the mysteries surrounding Mary Shelley's life. Burdon says of writing the book, 'Amongst the volumes of extant information and many complex biographies I glimpsed a Mary who was a teenage rebel, a grieving mother, a determined author and a long suffering lover of a man well ahead of his time. It made me want to tell her story.' Suzanne is British, and currently lives in Sydney, Australia.