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3.21  ·  Rating Details ·  746 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
Renewed interest in the life and works of Mary Shelley has in recent years generated new biographical studies, complete editions of her letters, short stories, and journals, and fresh critical assessments of Frankenstein and her other fiction. This book offers a new text of her novella Mathilda - an extraordinary tale of incest, guilt and atonement that was not published u ...more
Hardcover, Large Print, 159 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by Thorndike Press (first published 1819)
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Petra X
Mary Shelley is exceedingly famous as the author of Frankenstein, but this work isn't known at all and wasn't even published until 1959. With good reason.

The story is that Mathilda's father leaves England after the death of his wife and doesn't return until she is 16 whereupon he falls in love with her. He confesses it to her and then kills himself. (view spoiler). Mathilda is consumed with unhappiness an
Sep 27, 2011 Jessica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Read my full review here:

This may be one of the most Romantic books I've ever read. Romantic with a big R, not a little one. It's so packed full of feelings, melodramatic dialogues, and rainy moors, you'll be convinced Lord Byron is standing directly behind you.

In Mathilda, the title character narrates from her deathbed the tragic story of her life. Having lost her mother at birth, her father leaves her in the care of a cold aunt and
Update: giving it two stars.
I loved Frankenstein and part of me feels like I should have liked this as well, but honestly, I didn't.. The writing was alright and the story could have been too, but I was just so bored and the littlest things got me distracted whilest reading..

not sure how i feel about it yet..
Mar 24, 2013 MJ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics-club
Ah, poor Mary Shelley. I’m thinking she has this charmed life – daughter of two talented intellectuals, married to a gorgeous poet husband, herself a writer of what turns out to be one of the most famous books of all time, Frankenstein.

Then I find out that she wrote a little novella, Mathilda, that so shocked and outraged her father (also her publisher) with its subject of father-daughter incest that it was first published in 1959 – over 150 years after it was written. While some read it as auto
I really enjoyed this controversial book! This book really has a history. After Mary wrote this novella, her father, who was also her publisher, was so upset by its content that he kept the manuscript and refused to publish it. It was eventually published more than a hundred years later! That got me intrigued.

The story itself is beautifully written and I once again fell in love with Mary Shelley's writing. The story is very dark and disturbing and the content of the story is controversial, even
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Aug 12, 2016 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, read2016
Well this book is pretty awful. The description hints at incest but unless I'm unskilled at reading between the lines of this era's literature, it is really more about a father's guilt for having confusing feelings about his daughter 16 years after the death of her mother. (Not that I wanted to read a novel with incest. I had my share of Flowers in the Attic when we read it on the bus in junior high.)

This entire novel is a series of emotional letters and hand-wringing declarations and I wanted t
Jori Richardson
Oh, Shelley. First a story about a lonely, half-dead monster, and now a tale of incestuous romance.

I was very intrigued about the novella "Mathilda." I had heard of before, as "that other Shelley book," but somehow the knowledge of what it was about managed to never reach me until a few days ago.

For those who also do not know the story, this is about a girl who is indeed named Mathilda. Her mother tragically died in childbirth, inspiring her passionate father to flee in grief to the ends of the
Jul 07, 2015 Sierra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Incest, insanity, depression, and suicide. These dark things are what drew me to picking up the little novella of Mary Shelly's. "Frankenstein" was one of my favorite reads, and "The Last Man" was completely captivating, and I was thrilled to discover yet another of Shelly's works. However, "Mathilda" didn't thrill me the way "Frankenstein" or "The Last Man" did. Given, I started reading with the explicit desire to devour something that was uncomfortable and obscene. I wanted to be shocked and h ...more
Oct 03, 2013 Mel rated it it was amazing
This was just absoultely gorgeous. Everytime I read anything by Mary Shelley I just want to read everything she ever wrote, whether it was fiction or non-fiction. This was a very gothic tragic tale of a young girl doomed to death. The tale itself is interesting and tragic. The style of the writing is just beautiful. There are some of the most beautiful and moving passages about depression and suicide that I've ever read. Clearly Mary Shelley understood these things very well and while the plot o ...more
~ 3'25 ~
Disturbing at times with beautiful descriptions.
The perspective of the protagonist about life before and after a tragedy made me realise how things can change in a moment and how twisted life can be.
Sometimes, once sadness has invaded your life, there's no turning back, as sad as it is and that makes people see relief in places where other only see grief.
Stacey (wanderlustforwords67)
This little novella wasn't released until over 50 years after Mary Shelley's death. She wrote it after Frankenstein, and sent it off to her father to read, and he refused to give it back. The description says it's about incest, but there isn't any sexual acts, just the inappropriately passionate love of a father for his daughter. Realizing that he'll never escape from his unnatural love, he kills himself. The confusing piece is why then the daughter decides her life is over, and she runs away
Beautiful writing style.....horrible subject matter. I must stop pushing the "suprise me" button on my audiobook app!
Aug 02, 2011 Trina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A nice, quick read for anyone who enjoys melodrama, heaths, nature worship, dramatic suicides, and the like.
Apr 01, 2016 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was Mary Shelley’s second work after Frankenstein, and it’s really interesting to see how similar it is in thematic preoccupations and how it draws on her own life: absent fathers, dead mothers, nature as parent, books as parent, very close father-daughter relationships, human society as false and corrupting, human love and kindness as essential, the city as oppressive compared to the freedom of the countryside, the pleasures and pains of solitude. (that last one in particular; Shelley writ ...more
Jun 15, 2015 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Mathilda's father leaves her mother's birthing- and death-bed without laying eyes on her and she's raised by a maiden aunt until her father comes back when she's seventeen and they become bosom companions and best friendsies and go to London and then he inexplicably won't speak to her for several months. She confronts him by the lake next to the Yorkshire manor house with ivy growing up the walls and asks if she is the cause of his silent anger. He says, "No, but yes;" Mathilda runs up to her ro ...more
AmberBug **
Shelf Notes Review

Dear Reader,

Did I tell you how much I ADORE Melville House for coming up with a Novella subscription service? Each month, I get two small but colorful volumes dropped at my door! Just the right size, and I get to read some classic lit mixed in with all the other books I happen to be reading. Genius! Want to be included in the fun? Check it out here! The Art of the Novella. So yes, now that I have that out the way... I can tell you ALL about how this first Novella didn't quite s
Grace Harwood
Dec 07, 2013 Grace Harwood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've just finished re-reading Frankenstein and it reminded me how much I love the work of Mary Shelley, hence moving on to this small novella. The first part of this book is definitely stronger than the latter half which is a bit fragmented and not terribly polished in my opinion. The first part is just wonderful though - melodramatic, tragic and with all the obsession of the self which marks the typical Romantics of the period. The story commences on a blasted heath, where damaged soul Mathilda ...more
Written in 1819-20, and published posthumously, this novella recounts a father's attraction to his daughter, confession, and suicide. Wavering between a proto- psychological case study, on the one hand, and a high Romantic tale, on the other, Mathilda probes "the diseased yet incomprehensible state of [an incestuous father's:] mind" (165).

The first-person story is narrated by Mathilda (the daughter) who announces in the second paragraph, "I know that I am about to die." Writing this, she continu
John Cadaver
"I adjure you, my father, has not an unnatural passion seized upon your heart?"

Shelley deals with the controversial issue of incest, in which the father of the eponymous character, having been an absent parent for sixteen years of his daughter's life, returns to establish a relationship with his child.

This relationship is tainted when he conflates his daughter with her deceased mother, developing unnatural passions steered toward Mathilda. His perverse projection throws her into an abysmal turm
Luciana Vichino
Todo narrado em primeira pessoa, em uma carta a um amigo Mathilda narra a sua história, desde o casamento de seus pais até o final de sua curta vida. Em um certo momento tudo começa a ficar dramático demais e o foco da estória é o sofrimento de Mathilda. Muito bem narrado, mas exagerado demais para mim.
Uma boa opção para quem gosta de drama....muito drama.
Shiva Biglari
Dec 17, 2015 Shiva Biglari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am giving it 4 stars only because I loved the writing style. I usually like sad stories but this one was too sad. All characters are quite unfortunate here. Her parents, her husband and herself. I read that in real life Mary lost her children and this caused her depression and maybe led to this novel, but I can't see why critics would agree this is an autobiography. Simply because her father refused to publish it or that her mother died giving birth to her the same as the character, doesn't me ...more
Mar 25, 2014 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though I started "The Last Man" several years ago, this is the first Shelley writing that I've finished since completing both editions of "Frankenstein."

I'm working my way now through her complete works since reading Miranda Seymour's biography on this most extraordinary of authors.

"Mathilda" is not an easy read, despite its relatively brief length. It is heavy on first-person narration and detail, really heavy on emotion and sentiment almost to the point of melodrama (except for descriptions of
Janina Ibeth Flores
Mathilda es una novela corta de Mary Shelley que no vio la luz hasta ciento cincuenta años después de la muerte de su autora. En la historia se debaten varios temas prohibidos; la muerte, el suicidio, la pena y el incesto, que plagan a la protagonista de la obra.

Similar a como se desenvuelve "Frankenstein", Mathilda se cuenta a modo de novela autobiográfica donde en su lecho de muerte la protagonista revive los hechos incluso antes de su nacimiento. En la primera parte, relata un poco de la vida
Portia S
Feb 02, 2014 Portia S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eloquently written tale of a young girl who has sparked the feelings of romance within her father's heart after he sees her for the first time in fifteen years since the death of her mother in childbirth.


This is a very controversial book, and was published more than a hundred years after Shelley's death. It is written with a sad and lonely heart whose hopes for family comes and goes with glimmers of it coming to pass but it instead dissolves into something perverse.

The real chilling part of
Mar 25, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bettie, Carey
A mournful Mathilda longs to escape her concerned relatives who have no idea why her father killed himself. She fakes her own suicide and escapes with a modest sum to live on a remote heath in the North of England, alone with her memories of joy and tragedy.

After two years, just when she longs for a friend, she meets the young poet Woodville. He tries to lift her out of despair - but will she confide in him?
Apr 13, 2014 Sophie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Δεν μπορώ να πω πως η Ματίλντα με συνεπήρε τόσο όσο ο Φρανκενστάιν.

Η ιστορία είχε αρκετό λυρισμό, άλλωστε η μελωδική γλώσσα και το γότθικο, σκοτεινιασμένο ύφος ήταν, κυρίως, ο λόγος που μου άρεσε αυτή η νουβέλα. Παράλληλα, η υπόθεση ήταν αρκετά τολμηρή και, τουλάχιστον για τα δεδομένα εκείνης της εποχής, προκλητική, ωστόσο με άφησε σχετικά αδιάφορη, ενώ ήταν, σε πολλά σημεία, προβλέψιμη, με τάσεις επανάληψης(γλωσσικών εκφράσεων, αλλά και σκέψεων της ηρωίδας), οι οποίες με κούραζαν. Οι χαρακτήρε
Jun 13, 2014 Megan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sad to say I really disliked this. Dislike is too strong a word, maybe. I found it dull and had very little emotional reaction to it at all. The premise is horrible and intriguing (father falling in love with his daughter), but the book is basically one long first-person narration with very little momentum. Sorry Mary Shelley -- I still love you.
Emily Mellow
Jan 25, 2009 Emily Mellow rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: story
OK I didn't actually read it much, but enough to know it's pretty freakin' dry and slow. I liked Frankenstein enough to want to check out her other stuff, but please. This is not my style at all. Definitely disappointing as I thought of Shelley as a pretty good writer, even if Dr. Frankenstein was endlessly boring himself.
Such a profound book, everybody can have their own interpretation. In my opinion this book leaves somethin to keep in your mind an in your heart for ever. I remember specially the final, maybe I will read it again. Exactly that's what you don't when you really like a book!
Alicia (Lav)
Apr 23, 2016 Alicia (Lav) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mary Shelley is remembered by many because of required high school English reading and the terrible special effects in so many adaptations of her novel Frankenstein. And we can’t leave out that one asshole kid in every college literature course that has to point out that “Frankenstein is the doctor, not the monster” until someone else counters, “But isn’t Frankenstein the real monster?” and everyone ponders the universe for a moment while I roll my eyes. While Frankenstein is a beautiful and tho ...more
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Mary Shelley (née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, often known as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley) was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, travel writer, and editor of the works of her husband, Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. She was the daughter of the political philosopher William Godwin and the writer, philosopher, and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft ...more
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“My greatest pleasure was the enjoyment of a serene sky amidst these verdant woods: yet I loved all the changes of Nature; and rain, and storm, and the beautiful clouds of heaven brought their delights with them. When rocked by the waves of the lake my spirits rose in triumph as a horseman feels with pride the motions of his high fed steed.
But my pleasures arose from the contemplation of nature alone, I had no companion: my warm affections finding no return from any other human heart were forced to run waste on inanimate objects.”
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