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The Determined Heart: The Tale of Mary Shelley and Her Frankenstein

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  567 ratings  ·  125 reviews
The Determined Heart reveals the life of Mary Shelley in a story of love and obsession, betrayal and redemption.

The daughter of political philosopher William Godwin and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley had an unconventional childhood populated with the most talented and eccentric personalities of the time. After losing her mother at an early age, she finds hersel
Paperback, 407 pages
Published September 29th 2015 by Lake Union Publishing
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Antoinette May It's both. This is Mary's story. But, of course, I had to imagine thoughts, motivations conversations. I like to think that I was channeling Mary and…moreIt's both. This is Mary's story. But, of course, I had to imagine thoughts, motivations conversations. I like to think that I was channeling Mary and her circle.(less)

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3.86  · 
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 ·  567 ratings  ·  125 reviews

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Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Aug 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
It's remarkable to think how young Mary Shelley was when she wrote Frankenstein. Then again, she met Percy Bysshe Shelley when she was fourteen, run away with him when she was sixteen and bore him four children of which only one survived to grow up. What a fantastic and tragic life she lived.

Mary Wollstonecraft died in childbirth so Mary and her older sister Fanny grew up with their father William Godwin who later married Mary Jane Clairmont who already had a daughter called Claire Clairmont. S
The audiobook narration is so distracting that the book's content becomes extremely difficult to absorb. I managed, but only barely, to continue to the end. I was drawn in by the topic - the relationships between Mary Shelley(1797-1851), the author of Frankenstein, the poet-philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley(1792-1822), whom she eventually married, her stepsister Claire Clairmont(1798-1879), her half-sister Fanny Imlay(1794-1816), poet Lord Byron(1788-1824) and others of the family. Aaron Burr was ...more
Prior to reading “The Determined Heart” I knew only the absolute basics about Mary Shelley: She was the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft; the wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley (Bysshe); and the author of “Frankenstein” (the idea coming to her after being challenged by Lord Byron, “on a dark and stormy night,” to write a ghost story.) I must thank author Antoinette May for enlightening me about the true talent, and significant tragedies, that encompassed Shelley’s life.

May’s book covers Shelley’s life
Oct 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Three stars: A fascinating look at the woman behind one of the world's most enduring novels.

Mary Godwin is used to being the center of attention starting at an early age. She is the daughter of famed Mary Wollstonecraft, an intelligent feminist. Unfortunately, Mary lost her beautiful mother at an early age, but her mother's impact on Mary never fades. Young Mary is feisty, bright, intelligent and full of her own ideas. When she meets Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary finds a like minded spirit. Before
The Lit Bitch
Sep 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was equal parts heart break and inspiration. I don’t know that much about Mary Shelley as a historic figure and sadly I have not read her novel though I have it on my TBR list. What little I know of her and her works, I feel like there must have been an incredible back story……what sort of life produced such a powerful and iconic tale such as Frankenstein? This book is based on Shelley’s real life and let me just say…..determined heart…..doesn’t even begin to describe it. That woman cle ...more
Renee Ross
May 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
While I want to offer an eloquent review of this book, I find that I'm rather stunned speechless. All that comes to mind is wow! If only I could give it more than 5 stars. Utterly captivating, astonishingly riveting, and masterfully written. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Wow!
Aug 27, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

The Determined Heart is a fictionalised biography of Mary Shelley, concentrating primarily on her relationship with her mercurial poet husband, and exploring some of the influences which eventually led her to create her most famous literary work, Frankenstein.

The author’s research has clearly been extensive, and she has made good use of letters and poems by Shelley, Mary, Lord Byron and others throughout the book. Her writing style is communicative and easy to read, although there are t
Julianne (Outlandish Lit)
Mary Wollstonecraft is my GIRL. If you haven't read A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, you need to get on that immediately. Her daughter, Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein is also a badass. Which is why I really wanted to read this fictionalized account of Shelley's life, despite not normally being a historical fiction reader. Despite being a fan of her mom, I really didn't know much about Mary Jr.'s life apart from a little of her affair/marriage with Percy Shelley. But I learned a lo ...more
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
I very much enjoyed reading this historical novel centering on the life of Mary Shelley and her creation of Frankenstein. What a tragic life this young woman had and yet after each tragedy, she was able to pull herself up and keep going. Her love for Percy Bysshe Shelley was so deep and yet so bittersweet as she dealt with his many infidelities.

I particularly enjoyed the way the author portrayed Mary’s fascination with the then popular doctrine of vitalism and how an inanimate object might be br
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
My review for "The Determined Heart: The Tale of Mary Shelley and Her Frankenstein" by Antoinette May will be linked back here soon. Stay tuned!
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
4 Stars!
While I never actually read the book Frankenstein, I did see the movie, well the Mel Brooks version. But I was intrigued when I saw that Net Galley was offering this.

I figured what the heck I'd learn a little something while being entertained. Well, I learned a lot. While I knew that Percy Shelley and Lord Byron were poets, I didn't really know much about them. Now, I know a lot about all three of these literary giants.

Lord Byron certainly led a cray cray life and Percy Shelley wasn't al
This was a book group selection and I struggled through almost 3/4ths of this book until I couldn't take anymore. The writing is mediocre and overwrought and the characters portrayed (supposedly based on real people) have few morals and even less sense. Despite the tragic, sometimes deplorable and often debauched nature of Mary Shelley's life I can't help but wonder if this histrionic representation would cause her to turn in her grave. Perhaps she wouldn't care in the least. However I do and I ...more
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, audio-books
A woman ahead of her time

Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, was ahead of her time. She believed men and women should be treated as equals. She also believed that the institution of marriage was unnecessary and too confining (although she had second thoughts about that after she fell in love, and subsequently married Percy Bysshe Shelley).

I knew nothing about the life of Mary Shelley (1797-1851) prior to reading this book, so I couldn't help but wonder how much of the story was total fabricat
Jun 12, 2018 rated it liked it
The work was certainly well researched and has been produced by someone who loves Mary Shelley and her circle. However, the research was not enough to make this flat prose come to life.
While it was not a bad book, the author wrote in a style that did nothing to create any distinction in characters and while the text was different many of the characters seemed very much the same. Hearing it read aloud on audiobook it became hard to distinguish one character from the next, not because of the pers
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: frankenstein
This is a hard book to give a rating too because I thoroughly enjoyed the book, however, there were points that were unsettling to myself.

Mary Godwin Shelley (main character) is written in such a dull way. Here is a woman that experiences so many emotions and trials in her youth. Her passion for Percy Bysshe Shelley, motherless, has grown up with a step mother that despises her, loss of loved ones, betrayal, etc... However, the author Antoinette May doesn't give me anything but basic boxed emot
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review, first-reads
With echoes of her deceased mother Mary Wollstonecraft’s avant garde feminism undergirding the narrative, Mary Godwin Shelley emerges from “The Determined Heart” as a heroine ahead of her time. Her unconventional love affair with Percy Bysshe Shelley marks a pivotal turning point in her young life, and what follows leads to myriad highs and lows and generates her crowning achievement, “Frankenstein.” Populated by characters both legendary and mundane, this story draws readers into a world that i ...more
Lora Sutton
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a very well written book and a delicious read! It is difficult to believe these characters were real people yet they were. It definitely made me want to learn even more about these first "hippies"!
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A well written and enthralling book about the life of Mary Shelley. This is a book I could not put down. I had never realized Shelley was friends with so many well known poets and writers of her day! You will see many familiar famous names in here. I believe this is, while a work of fiction, very much based on fact. In any case you will find the amazing life of the author of Frankenstein to be hard to put down. I hated to see this book end.
Sep 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is a compelling and extensively researched fictional version of the life of Mary Shelley until shortly after the death of Percy Bysshe Shelley. This novel also delves deeply into her relationships: with her family, her lovers, and her friends and supporters.

Mary was born into from the union of two amazing thinkers of their time, Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin. Both were considered intellectual revolutionaries, particularly Wollstonecraft for being a writer and the proto-feminist, w
Sep 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
Originally posted on my blog With Her Head in a Book.

I received an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I picked up THE DETERMINED HEART right around October of last year hoping to learn a bit more about Mary Shelley and the big love interest of her life. I hoped to gain some insight to the effect her had on her and how that manifested in her writings which I would be reading shortly after. I didn’t quite get that in this novel, but I did learn a fair about Mary Shelley though I
Paula Dennan
Jun 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To describe the life of Mary Shelley (née Godwin) as unconventional would be an understatement. The daughter of political philosopher William Godwin and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, her life was bound to be an intriguing one.

What Antoinette May does with The Determined Heart: The Tale of Mary Shelley and Her Frankenstein is take the details of Shelley’s life and weave them as a fictional narrative that hooks the reader from the beginning.

This is a story of love; a story of obsession, a story
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: give-away-shelf
I really enjoyed this book. I was engrossed in the story as soon as I started reading the first few pages. I really liked Mary right away but it was heartbreaking to see all that she had to endure. The selfish people she put up with and why she endured it. The book is a historical fiction but made me think about her life and what she was really was like. I have Frankenstein's on my to read list, the version that Shelley originally produced. I would recommend this book to my friends. I'd like to ...more
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
"I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review"

I enjoyed this tale of how Mary Shelley was inspired and influenced to write "Frankenstein". The characters were so well written that I found myself getting wrapped up in their adventures. I grimaced when they made stupid decisions, gasped when they had unexpected adventures and sighed when their dreams were fulfilled or dashed.
Shelly | The Mockingbird Reads
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway.
This was quite an interesting book. I knew little of Mary Shelley other than the generic overview most people have heard. It felt equal parts heartbreak and intrigue. I'm definitely glad to have won this book as I am doubtful I would have picked it out to read on my own.
Ashley Reading Stewardess
I really enjoyed getting to read this book as it allowed me to learn more than the basic knowledge I had about Mary Shelley.

For my complete review visit: https://readingstewardess.wordpress.c...
Kathy Moberg
Oct 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was a very satisfying and well-written historical novel. I am impressed.
Oct 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Originally published at Reading Reality

One of the enduring tales about Mary Shelley is the story of the dark, stormy and miserable night in 1816 when Lord Byron challenged all of his guests to write a ghost story. Out of that challenge came the foundation of two branches of fiction – John Polidori’s The Vampyre, the precursor to Bram Stoker’s more famous Dracula, which is the basis for vampire fantasy and the fiction of the paranormal; and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which is the foundational w
Maria Rose
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the books I read using natural light during the days I had a power outage. It was in my TBR pile at home. I had gotten this book because I liked the story of Frankenstein as written by Mary Shelley and try to get books which have some variance on the story. This is actually a biography of the life of Mary Shelley and how she came to write the Frankenstein story. There also tales of people within whose circle of authors she associated with because of her husband Percy Bysshe Shelle ...more
Jul 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-authors
This book is sort of strange and could have used an editor. In the beginning of the book, the author looks at Bysshe through three women's eyes, so one thinks it is going to be from these women about mid-point that is abandoned and it is just through Mary Shelley's eyes. This is frustrating because one of the women is written very well and I would have liked to have seen more of her.
The last half of the book is the strongest, but Mary seems strangely passive - only doing things because various
Jun 05, 2018 rated it liked it
I wavered between a 3 and 4 on this. I liked getting a glimpse into the life of Mary Shelley, a very tough life full of heartbreak and disappointment with periods of discovery and happiness thrown in. When I read poetry by Shelley and Lord Byron in high school and college, I didn't give much thought to what kind of people they were... self-centered philandering jerks most of the time - ah, the creative mind - and don't get me started on Mary's father and stepmother. I believe I read Frankenstein ...more
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