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3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  212 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
In this electrifying novel, Frances Sherwood re-creates the life and times of Mary Wollstonecraft, the trailblazing English feminist. Abetted by an unruly intelligence and an unquenchable romanticism, Sherwood's Mary survives a brutal childhood to carve a courageous but always uncertain path for herself in a world of men. Rich historical settings from the chaos of Revoluti ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published January 17th 2004 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 1993)
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Elizabeth Moeller
I wonder if it is a peculiarly American trait to want our heroes to be perfect? We have no state religion and so we have taken as our gods those men and women who stand for the virtues we admire and forget about the less heroic parts of their characters.
As someone who has an interest in feminism and women's history, I was vaguely aware that Mary Wollstonecraft, in the late 1700s, wrote one of the first treaties about the rights of women, but I didn't have any real idea of her life beyond that.
Frances Brody
Oct 07, 2011 Frances Brody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's eighteen years since I read this book, and I dreamed of it last night! In this anxiety dream, I was at an Oxford college, only to listen to other people, and was asked to step in at short notice and give a lecture on Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and, as the cover blurb of Frances Sherwood's novel has it, 'the mother of the future Mary Shelley.'

In my dream, I could either search out the college manager, Titan Zoldi, who would point me in the right direc
Jul 24, 2008 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
so... we'll assume that you've read Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonescraft... because if we didn't... we'd have to slap you upside the head... which would probably hurt... a lot... because i wear some heavy rings. and after we assume that you've read Vindication of the Rights of Women, we'll assume that you're an intelligent, and open minded individual, who is well read, and knows a little something-something about literature, history, feminism, and love. so assuming these th ...more
May 12, 2007 R.J. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommend
Close competition with In the Fall for my most favorite fiction book. Early feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, the mother of Frankenstein author Mary Shelly, had an adventurous and atypical life for an 18th century woman reporting on the French revolution, being imprisoned because she demanded equal treatment under the law and bearing a child out of wedlock. Wollstonecraft finally settled down and had her 2nd child, Mrs. Shelly, and yet~~~
May 05, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it
Loved this story. Based on the life of Mary Wollenstonecraft. She was a maverick and unconventional in her tome. I Love her spirit and strength of vision. Her adventures and struggles were totally unforeseen. But she is brave and a survivor and remains true to herself and beliefs as she meets up with other intellects and characters and is challenged again and again.
Mar 23, 2009 Janellyn51 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. As a historical fiction it was really well written. It prompted me to read a biography of Mary Wollstoncraft...She truly was a pioneer for womens rights...but of course it got her in all manner of trouble. Best known for her treatise Vindication of the Rights of Women...she's also Mary Shelly's mother.
Ruth Marner
Nov 13, 2011 Ruth Marner rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I've ever read. I think that you'll enjoy it if you like historical fiction. I mean, I don't want to vouch for the validity or the accuracy of her potrayals. However, I found this plot and the characters very enjoyable. Sorry to be vague. I haven't read it for more than ten years and I need to reread it soon.
Oct 07, 2010 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every paragraph of this novel was sodden with detail....John Irving wrote in A Prayer for Owen Meany that great writing zooms in and out, focusing on detail as well as the big picture and Frances Sherwood has created a vibrant account of all the details that create the larger picture. Vindication has awoken in me a desire to read biographies of all kinds beginning with Mary Wollstonecraft.
Terry Perrel
Feb 17, 2009 Terry Perrel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An historical novel that is so alive you feel as though you've a seat at the dining room table where both eating and urinating are going on at the same time. If you love literature, you'll enjoy the long deceased writers who appear.
Oct 24, 2007 hagar rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books--beautifully drawn historical fiction about the life of Mary Wollstonecraft, early feminist and mother of Mary Shelley, she of Frankenstein fame. You will not believe the life this woman led!
Catherine Handren
Jun 25, 2007 Catherine Handren rated it it was amazing
This was really fun. Sometimes historical fiction works. It does here. Mary Wollstonecraft brought to life. Vindication of the Rights of Women was a much better read after I read this. If academia could do a better job of setting the stage for great literature more people would appreciate it!
Aug 19, 2008 Nayeli rated it it was amazing
Such an interesting life and what a pioneer! This book made me want to know more about Mary Wollstonecraft--and find out how much of this story was true.
Feb 15, 2009 Wendi rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written historical novel about Mary Wollstonecraft's turbulent life as a woman, feminist, and radical writer.
Jan 09, 2010 Sheila rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I really enjoyed this fictionaled novel based on the life of Mary Wollstonecraft, whose writings were important to my own development as a feminist.
Dec 31, 2016 Lisa rated it really liked it
Literary fiction about a literary and philosophical icon/iconoclast. At times a bit too wordy for my taste, but I'll bet Mrs. Wollstonecraft would approve. Having read one other book by the author, I expected it to be a bit wordier than sparse, repetitive fiction; without the wordiness, the drama would have been far diminished. (And now my review is too wordy!) I love a book that makes me want to learn more about a topic or an era, and this fits that bill. It even worked in a bit of The French R ...more
Feb 27, 2010 Nezka rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is absolute drek, from beginning to end. It was forced on me by a former college friend, who'd studied English, and I politely read it and returned it to her without telling her how absolutely vile it was. I still need to read a proper biography of Mary Wollstonecraft to (hopefully) purge the gross image I had of her after reading this, but I think I am half afraid that her real life could actually have been as bad as it was portrayed in this fictionalized biography.
Apr 06, 2009 Katie rated it it was ok
A fictionalized biography of Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley's Mom. I didn't connect with Mary, just couldn't get emotionally engaged. However, I remember that the depiction of the foul smelling and unhygenic nature of life in 18th century England ... and one haunting, never to be forgotten instance of foul smelling and unhygenic sexual abuse. Yuck.
Aug 21, 2007 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: trashy feminists
this novel introduced me to the guilty pleasure genre of "historical fiction." it's a romp through mary wollstonecraft's life-and boy oh boy did it make rebellion feminist style look tasty. even imprisonment and mysoginist lovers sounded strangely sexy.
Jul 28, 2007 Christina rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had to force myself to finish this book, and skimmed the last fourth of it. Mary Wollstonecraft, at least in this author's version, is one of the most obnoxious heroines I have ever had the displeasure of coming across.
Sep 03, 2010 Mariya marked it as to-read
Dec 15, 2011 Lora rated it it was amazing
Favorite books of 1994...
Sep 17, 2016 Louiemllr rated it it was amazing
Sherwood brought Mary Wolstonecraft to life in this book. And what a fascinating life she had! Loved this book although so many details of the times made me cringe with horror.
Wolf Moon
Jul 19, 2008 Wolf Moon added it
Recommends it for: Anyone
It's been quite some years since I have read this book, but I was really pleased with it. It's about Mary Shelley's (who wrote Frankenstein) mother.
Dec 02, 2007 Graceann rated it liked it
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans
A fanciful novel based on the life of Mary Wollstonecraft - full of sex and preachy interludes on the subject of feminism. At first it was very interesting, but then the theme became tiresome.
Nicole Ambarchian
Jan 31, 2013 Nicole Ambarchian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Could not finish it- made my stomach turn. Was not connecting to the protagonist. Sorry
May 14, 2014 Bobbi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Big mistake
Madeleine rated it really liked it
Jun 01, 2007
jobiwan6 rated it liked it
Oct 09, 2010
Rebecca Mcdole
Rebecca Mcdole rated it liked it
Oct 26, 2007
Teresa rated it really liked it
Apr 28, 2009
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