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Passion: A Novel of the Romantic Poets

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  784 ratings  ·  122 reviews
Theirs was a world of obsession, genius, and above all…

In the turbulent years of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, three poets—Byron, Shelley, and Keats—come to prominence, famous and infamous, for their vivid personalities, and their glamorous, shocking, and sometimes tragic lives. In this electrifying novel, those lives are explored through the eyes of the w
Paperback, 536 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published July 5th 2004)
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3.94  · 
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 ·  784 ratings  ·  122 reviews

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I've read a lot of historical fiction, and along the way I've encountered a variety of purposes behind undertaking such projects. For some, the "historical" part seems to be mere source material used to explore certain themes that may be best explored in an "alien" time and place. For others, it seems to be an amateur historian project where they offer their own humble, untrained opinions about various historical figures based on their research for the book. For still others, it seems to be pure ...more
Jun 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
This book is done a great disservice by its cover, which makes it look like a standard bodice-ripper. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but that's not what this is. In fact, my dad was looking to buy me books for Christmas and he told me he'd seen this in the store, but the cover made him think that this wasn't the book I wanted. But it was! A fascinating and incredibly *full* book about the women in the Byron-Shelley circle. Very well-written, I loved the structure and the ways in whic ...more
Historical fiction told from the points of view of women who loved three of the most famous Romatnic poets: Byron, Shelley, and Keats. It hews very closely to the known facts, revealing opinions and personalities so unobtrusively and naturally that the prodigious amount of research Morgan must have done is invisible. Beautifully told, with natural dialog and evocative imagery and metaphors. Impressively, I came away from this novel feeling strongly for each of the historical personages, even Byr ...more
Aug 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is excellent and I couldn't put it down. The novel is really about the lives of the women in the lives of the Romantic Poets--Mary Godwin Shelley, Claire Clairmont, Lady Caroline Lamb, Augusta Byron Leigh, Annabella Byron, & Fanny Brawne. The book actually begins with a preface that summarizes the life of Mary Wollstoncraft, the mother of Mary Godwin Shelley. Then the author describes the childhoods of the women who would grow up to be wives and lovers of the Romantic Poets--Lord B ...more
Kathleen Valentine
May 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
The difference between genre fiction and literary fiction, Stephen King says, is that genre fiction is about ordinary people in extraordinary situations. Literary fiction, however, is about extraordinary people in ordinary situations. This is a definition I like because it is both how I read and how I write. But what happens when extraordinary people live through extraordinary times? One result is Passion: A Novel of the Romantic Poets by Jude Morgan.

Set against the backdrop of the French Revolu
Aside from the silly cover on the dust jacket of this book, there is very little wrong with it. I endured a bit of teasing from by husband who suspected Jude Morgan's Passion to be some sort of bodice-ripping romance novel full of sex. "A book," my husband said, "that you would never read."

The cover really is misleading.

During the years of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, three writers, or poets rather, emerge as prominent figures not only for their exceptional writing, but for the
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 1/2 stars. I enjoyed this book a great deal, but I kind of expected to, considering it is pretty much tailor made for me. Well written historical fiction with interesting characters is my guilty pleasure, and a British setting (totally unrepentant Anglophile here) is my equivalent of chocolate shavings on top the cupcake. So I would have snatched this book up even if it wasn't centered around the three young romantic poets, and my absolute favorite literary period. I know quite a bit about the ...more
Aug 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING. Morgan puts you in the place of the four women who loved the romantic poets. You feel like you are in their places as you read, and see their men from their perspectives. Morgan's style of writing is evocative and beautiful. I admire the writing. Fantastic read for anyone interested in the Regency and the great poets of the age. Well researched, historically accurate. A MUST READ.
Katherine (
Let me start off by saying I love this book, but I only gave it 4 stars because of
1. It's incredibly misleading cover.
2. The fact that it feels like it took a long time for the actual story to get started.
3. The 600 pages which is really unnecessary. There could have been at least 200-300 pages scraped from this book. It took me so long to completely finish reading this book and I just feel like it should not have taken me so long.
4. It's shifting perspective. I liked the fact that there were m
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The brightest star in this constellation is Mary Shelley. Her life, amongst all the Romantic poets and their followers, burns the brightest and longest, and with the most suppressed rage and spite. She began her marital life at a ridiculously young age; AND she outlived her husband and his friends. And thus, because Mary kept the bulk of written records in her possession, and because her female relatives weren't much interested in record-keeping, it's simply the easiest process to make this nove ...more
Katherine Gypson
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I always hesitate to start a Jude Morgan novel. I hesitate for many reasons: because his idiosyncratic voice will invade my imagination, changing my own writing for some time; because I know that the depth and breadth of his historical vision will require a greater reading effort on my part (this is no light historical mystery I can finish in a day or two) and because I know that ultimately, when I turn the last page, it will be impossible to choose the next book I want to read. Nothing will mea ...more
Christy B
May 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Pinterest board:

Passion is the third book I've read by Jude Morgan. Even though I've read Indiscretion and Charlotte and Emily, I still was fearful over Passion. Why? Well, because like the other two books I read, Passion is told from the perspectives of women, and I figured that Morgan was bound to screw up sometime. I'm very hesitant to read a book primarily about women and from their point of view when it has been written by a man, but let me tell you
“You will find in the end, my dear friend, that there is nothing more oppressive than freedom.”

It is a multi-biography. You will meet poets, philosophers, writers. But most of all you will meet women who are often forgotten. But without those women many famous, great men would be someone else maybe would be simply ordinary men.

“The only thing worse than constantly seeing what you can't have is constantly seeing what you must have.”

For the last week I have lived with Caroli
Jul 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Romantics, poets, Byron junkies
Jude Morgan's tour-de-force is light years away from the lighthearted romp of "Indiscretion". Passion is a novel written with a biographer's depth of research. Morgan breathes reality into the well-worn scandals of Byron, Shelley, Wollstonecraft and Lamb and dramatically portrays just how scandal and banality coexisted in their lives. Byron remains the least knowable character for his excesses confound comparisons with the more conventional yet still scandalous of his contemporaries. In placing ...more
Jul 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book about the women surrounding the lives of the great Romantic poets: Byron, Shelley and Keats, including Mary Shelley the author of Frankenstein and the daughter of the great Mary Wollstonecraft. Their stories are told against the richly detailed social and political background of the 1780s to the 1820s and gives an interesting and insightful look into the their lives and times.

I give it 4 stars rather than five because, as the story is told from several different pe
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an extraordinary novel. Written with astonishing delicacy, extremely well documented, it perfectly fits anecdotes into fiction as it blends fiction into history. Morgan's capacity to give a unique voice to each of the historical personalities the reader finds in this story is sign of very good writing. I am grateful that somebody has given voice, even if it is through a fictionalisation (although, I insist, this is very well documented and I would invite Romanticism fans to read it -with ...more
Lush and gorgeous and so entertaining--a truly perfect pick if you're interested in the Romantic poets. This is the second book I've read now by Jude Morgan (after Indiscretion) and they were both fabulous in completely different ways--I'm definitely going to be seeking out more from this author.
Jan 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Love Jude Morgan. Probably one of the more authentic Regency writers. Disliked this book just for the ick factor. Mr Morgan chose the rumor (true or not, nobody knows but evidance kinda points that way) that Byron was sleeping with his sister. I like fictional biographies but sometimes we see the ugly side of things that I dont necessarily want to read about. His writing is really well done.
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, favorites
I posted this review on the Barnes & Noble site--hopefully more people will find it here, because I am absolutely messianic about this book & have tried to get everyone I know to read it. It fulfills a much-needed gap in historical fiction, and I hope to inspire more people to read it. I love and admire Jane Austen as much as anyone, but hey, Regency England did not begin and end with Jane Austen! Byron, Shelley, and Keats were three of the greatest poets in the language, and also had fa ...more
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
the last two books I have read were by authors I'd never heard of and they both turned out to be amazing. I picked this up because I'd read lynn shepherd's novel about shelley and byron recently. there was a blurb by tracy chevalier on the front, and though I've never read any of her stuff, at least I've heard of her. still, I wasn't very gung ho about reading it, my expectations were quite low. the title is rather prosaic - which is a strange thing to say about the word "passion".

and it took a
Dane Sørensen
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Discovered this one at my local library, and by all the stars in yond marble heav'n, it became an instant favourite!

Jude Morgan's is a tale of Augusta Byron and her half-brother the Lord Byron, his mistress Lady Caroline Lamb, of Mary Shelley and her lover Percy Bysshe, of Fanny Brawne's all-too-brief love for Keats, featuring cameos from Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Mary Wollstonecraft. Morgan's prose is clever and poetic, delightful to read, changing her style in subtle (and sometimes not-so-su
Cathy (cathepsut)
An account of the women sharing their lives with Lord Byron, Shelley and Keats. A very good description of the middle/upper class of that time with emphasis on the women, their social surroundings, morals and ethics of that time, politics and major events of the period. You get a look at the literary and social scene, the Prince Regent, Beau Brummel, Napoleon, Waterloo and so on and so forth.
Although its central theme is romantic relationships, I would not class this as a romantic novel, but rat
Aug 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
4.5 Well-researched, beautifully written fictionalization of the lives of four of the female loves of the second generation Romantic poets: Caroline Lamb, married to another but obsessed with the "mad, bad, and dangerous to know" Byron; Augusta Leigh, half-sister and reputed incestuous lover of same; Mary Godwin, teen lover and later wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley; and Fanny Brawne, the inspiration for much of Keats' best poetry. Nuanced, sympathetic, and emotionally moving characterizations make ...more
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Epic. Brilliant fictional recreation of the lives of 3 great Romantic poets - Byron, Shelley, Keats - and the women they were involved with - Byron's lovers Caroline Lamb and Augusta Leigh, Shelley's lover and wife Mary Godwin Shelley, and Keats' fiancee Fanny Brawne. The opening chapters also touch on the difficult life of Mary Shelley's mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, who wrote "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman", a hugely influential book of feminist philosophy. The stories in "Passion" are t ...more
I love this book. Simply adore it, with all its fictionalised fact and gothic themes.
The number of women on this site who claim terrible disappointment seem to have thought this was a bodice-ripper; there IS plenty of sex and love here, but generally implicit rather than explicit. The passions the title refer to are rather the passions of life, the things that compel people and drive our actions and behaviours. These are not always clean, wholesome or healthy for us, but often destructive and te
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Jude Morgan's book gives us the lives of the second generation of Romantic poets (Byron, Shelley, and Keats) through the eyes of the women in their lives. Caroline Lamb and Mary Shelley were famous in their own right, Augusta Leigh became infamous, and Fanny Brawne remained an unknown. Morgan deftly moves between narrators and stories, revealing her meticulous research and grasp of the period, to explore how these women coped with and were changed by their dealings with these genius writers. We ...more
Aug 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 19thcentury
What to say about this one? On the surface, Passion is a well-researched (as far as I know) historical fiction novel about Byron, Shelley, Keats, and the English women who notably loved them. On a deeper level, it is an exploration of the nature love and passion in their creative and destructive roles. I don't know if the emotions of the women are an accurate reflection of what their historical selves felt, but it almost doesn't matter. What the author really gives the reader, through the predom ...more
May 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Despite its unfortunate title (which sounds like something by Danielle Steel), 'Passion' is a wonderful historical novel. (I agree with the reviewer who said this is NOT really a historical romance.) I was so delighted by it that I sought out everything I could find by Jude Morgan, and I've been recommending this book to anyone I know who loves historical fiction.

Personally, I liked the shifting narrative, and I think that Morgan did an excellent job of creating believable, individual voices fo
Jul 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of the second-generation Romantics
Well-written historical fiction that, to the best of my knowledge, is pretty accurate. It's an extensive read but, if you are a fan of the second-generation Romantics, that doesn't really pose a problem. The only drawback I can think of is the pacing towards the end, which suffers because of the chronological nature of the book--Keats story only really gets going as the others is ending, which sometimes made me feel as if I was reading two novels at once.

Also, this is somehow more heartbreaking
Sep 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was reluctant to read this book. The cover suggested an explicit romance novel. After reading the reviews, I decided to give this book a chance. The book was most definitely not a cheesy romance novel. The characters had depth and though sex was implied, it was never written about in graphic detail. It is not an easy read; the book is written like four separate biographies that cut into each other, and the author changes voices throughout the book. However, I am glad I stuck with it. The chara ...more
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Jude Morgan was born and brought up in Peterborough on the edge of the Fens and was a student on the University of East Anglia MA Course in Creative Writing under Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter.

A pseudonym used by Tim Wilson.

Also wrote under the names T.R. Wilson and Hannah March.
“But then she often felt like this lately. The world seemed full of transparent frauds that only she could see through. She was forever shouting from the hustings of honesty, though if any honesty were directed at her she ran from it horrified. And she knew it, laughed at herself for it, wretchedly. She was all to pieces.” 4 likes
“Keats was getting a reputation just when he was too ill to appreciate it or build on it: his country was taking notice of him just when he would have to leave it.” 3 likes
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