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Mary, a Fiction

3.02  ·  Rating Details ·  116 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
[Librarian's note: Although this edition appears to be attributed to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, it was in fact authored by her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, in 1788.]

A magnificent novel by Shelley published in 1788. It has autobiographical elements and depicts pure sentiments of a woman. It is about a woman who is unhappy with her arranged marriage and tries to overcome h
Paperback, 164 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by (first published 1788)
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Amy Sturgis
This is a fascinating story if you read it from the perspective of intellectual history, in the context of its times and as a reflection of Mary Wollstonecraft's evolving ideas. Inspired by Jean-Jacques Rousseau's conviction that geniuses are self-taught, but in defiance of his poorly-drawn, two-dimensional woman characters, the story presents a self-taught female genius, Mary. The heroine's tragic plight -- by the end, the anticipation of dying young almost seems like a happy ending -- proves h ...more
Jun 23, 2016 Pink rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I've come to the conclusion that I love what Mary Wollstonecraft has to say. Her writing, not so much.
Sep 24, 2016 Rebecca rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Summary: The main character, who the writer named after herself, is superior to everyone.

There are long long long passages about how crappy everybody is, even her best friend.

5 paragraphs describing people who have no importance in the story whatsoever, and are only really talked about in these 5 paragraphs:

"When I mentioned the three ladies, I said they were fashionable women;
and it was all the praise, as a faithful historian, I could bestow on
them; the only thing in which they were consisten
Ewa-lotta Neander
Interesting perspective written in the 18th century. Don't actually like the narrator though so it falls kind of flat.
Jared Pechacek
What a strange book.
Semi-autobiographical (as you might guess), Mary: A Fiction follows a young woman of great intelligence and passion from her birth to—well, not quite her death. Mary is a sort of proto-Marianne Dashwood, a goodhearted woman who hates societal restriction and wishes she could be free to follow the dictates of her heart. Sure, that sounds a bit rote, but at the time it was written, it must have been shocking.
Most of the plot concerns Mary on a trip to Portugal with a sick frie
Wollstonecraft is someone I have always been aware of, particularly as I have studied and written on women's rights quite a few times. As a proto-feminist she was one of the first women to speak out against gender inequality, and her fiction definitely follows this theme.

Mary is a young heiress ignored by her parents in favour of her older brother- a situation Wollstonecraft faced in her own life that continued to anger her for her whole life (the favouring of her brother that is, not the heires
Dec 01, 2012 Rebekah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"Mary, A Fiction" is often supposed to be one of the world's first truly feminist novels. However, Wollstonecraft instead creates an insipid character named Mary (after the authoress, by any chance?) who very rarely speaks up in her own defense or acts with the revolutionary fervor Mary Wollstonecraft was famous for. The character Mary is born of dreadful beginnings and it is not until she unexpectedly becomes an heiress that her parents take note of her. Her parents, however, die shortly after ...more
Rachel Brand
Read for EN4363: Romantic Writing and Women.

Technically, the edition I own is a Penguin 3-in-1, but I realised that I'd rather have my reviews of Mary, Maria and Matilda separate, and that using that edition on GoodReads would skew my reading statistics for the year.

I'm unsure as to whether Mary is a novella or a short-story. It only takes up 53 pages in my edition, but it's an incredibly small font. And given how tedious this book felt after a while, it might as well have been a full-length nov
Poor Mary. Her parents ignore her until she becomes an heiress and then they die--but not before her father marries her off to the son of a man with whom there is a dispute for a portion of the acreage of Mary's estate. While the marriage conveniently solves the land dispute it leaves Mary tied to a man she, at first, does not know and later, loathes. Not to mention, now she can never marry for love. Again perhaps conveniently, her love interest is a sickly man who dies before marriage can becom ...more
Amanda Farag
As I am an avid fan of Wollstonecraft's other works, mainly philosophical writings, I was very excited to read her first novel. After reading this piece though, is clear this is one of her early writings and not as mature or eloquent as her later works. That being said, when placing this work in the context of when it was written during the late eighteenth century and the perspective it offers about marriage, charity, sensibility, friendship and the expectations of women at that time it becomes ...more
Aug 19, 2016 Lucy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Really only of interest because of who wrote it, and what she subsequently wrote and became. As a novel, it's fairly woeful. Mary may be a proto-feminist and thinker, but she still does the usual gothic heroine thing of alternately weeping and fainting.There are some glimmers of good writing - I did like the description of the ungrateful poor family who Mary rescues, and she deals well with the sea and river passages - but overall, it's a tract not a novel.
Sep 10, 2013 Annabel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, renaissance
Thoroughly enjoyed this short novel; I fell in love with the protagonist early on (despite her being self-indulgently woeful!) and willed her to be happy in life.
A great window into womens' lives in the 18th century too.
May 26, 2015 Alex rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This very short book is not a success, and has none of the power of her letters from Sweden etc or of the Vindication.
Nov 21, 2008 Rebecca rated it did not like it
Shelves: the-classics
Be prepared for internal monologues and characters who do not inspire the reader with an ounce of sympathy. Bah! the writing style makes you very aware that you are reading a book. Not worth reading.
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Mary Wollstonecraft was an eighteenth century British writer, philosopher, and feminist. Among the general public and specifically among feminists, Wollstonecraft's life has received much more attention than her writing because of her unconventional, and often tumultuous, personal relationships. After two ill-fated affairs, with Henry Fuseli and Gilbert Imlay, Wollstonecraft married the philosophe ...more
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