Sherry's Reviews > The Nature of Monsters

The Nature of Monsters by Clare Clark
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's review
Jul 28, 2009

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Read in July, 2009

When I started this book, I almost put it down on page one! It started out with a very graphic description; not salacious, but coarse and rough. I just couldn't imagine reading an entire book with this type of language, but I pressed on, skimming some of the coarser descriptions. I'm glad I did.

The Nature of Monsters is told by Eliza Tally, a coarse (hence the language), headstrong young woman living in England in the early 1700's. The question you consider throughout the book is what really makes a monster? Is it a child born deformed mentally or physically? Is it a mother's self-serving actions to promote herself at her child's expense? Is it a young woman's bad choices that brand her a harlot? It it a man's quest to do evil in the name of God? Is it standing by while someone is hurt and you do nothing?

So many things to think about in the story. In some ways it reminded me of The Scarlet Letter vis a vis those who are often branded sinful and wicked are the kindest, while those who hold themselves up as pious are as dark as night inside.

The story is compelling; I couldn't put it down, reading well into the night to see how it would resolve itself. I felt a great appreciation for being born in a time and a place where a young woman has choices in life, as Eliza struggles with the limitations of 18th Century society.

Overall the story is somewhat heavy and dark, but has a very satisfactory ending. Not a wrapped-up-with-a-bow-happily-ever-after type ending, but a realistic, pleasing ending nonetheless.

Coarse language is probably the only drawback I can see for your enjoyment of the book, but I will say it is not gratuitous or for mere shock value. Given the world Eliza lives in, I'm quite sure this is quite "cleaned up." But the moral questions you are left pondering more than overshadow the language.
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