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The Devil Kissed Her
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The Devil Kissed Her

3.26  ·  Rating details ·  61 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
Kathy Watson explores Mary Lamb's famous crime and her remarkable relationship with her brother Charles.

Author Mary Lamb, long considered by historians a mere adjunct to her brother Charles, was a woman of contradictions: fiercely domestic yet unmarried; maternal yet childless; a peaceful, loving woman susceptible to bouts of extreme violence.

In this fascinating book,
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 9th 2004 by Tarcher
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A very thoroughly researched biography that is easily readable if not amazingly engaging. Ms. Watson covers every aspect of Mary Lamb's (and subsequently Charles Lamb's) life, which also allows her to fill the reader in on 18th/19th century treatment of mental illness, the literary circles of London during the same time, and the early children's book publishing business, among other topics. She deftly makes her case that Mary Lamb is far more than the co-author of "Tales from Shakespeare"/insane ...more
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
Despite the tagline on the cover promising a lunatic and murderer this book just really didn't hold my interest. It was a short book and I anticipated a quick read but it turned out to be several days of struggling. Mary Lamb's illness is mostly glossed over and there really isn't much else about the brouther sister duo to hold a reader's interest. In addition to lacking excitment the text is even more bogged down with too many direct quotes and the Lamb siblings poetry. This book just really la ...more
Jul 24, 2011 rated it liked it
I enjoyed learning more about both Mary and Charles Lamb. This book gives insight into what it was like to live with a mental illness in the late 1700's and early 1800's. I was surprised to find that Mary's community of friends were constantly there for her. If not for Charles, she may have been confined to an asylum for all of her adult life after murdering her mother. Charles' devotion to Mary allowed her to live a much more normal life than most with mental illnesses during that time, which a ...more
Went much deeper into this famous figure's life than I would have thought possible. I was startled to realize that I own a copy of the book she published with her brother, many years after killing her mother with a knife during the first of her manic episodes. The story is an unexpected history of compassionate care of a mentally ill criminal many years before one would have thought it was possible.
Feb 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Potentially the first serious book I've ever willingly selected and read on my own initiative. Could this be a sign of encroaching readership maturity? All I know is that I need a nice light book now, to recuperate. :D
Amy Ballard
Jul 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Gripping from the first page. A few patches will seem dry if you're not a lit/history buff. Fun to connect authors with authors.
Nicole M.
Truth be told, I have to say, objectively, that this is a rather nice biography of an individual. However, I found it to be somewhat tiresome, because I had no prior knowledge of the existence of Mary Lamb! I got the book for free, and finally came around to reading it.

Now I know that Mary Lamb and her brother Charles were 19th century writers who hung with a decidedly literary crowd. All in all, they lived moderately interesting lives together--but since I have no interest in their writing or
Katherine Basto
Jul 23, 2016 rated it liked it
I learned a great deal about the madness and genius of both Mary and her brother Charles Lamb. Watson balances out Mary's bouts of madness, when she became "ill" and had to go to the asylum for months and the sweet, gentle Mary everyone adored. A part of this madness started when Mary, frustrated with being a seamstress and caring for infirm parents murdered her mother. Back in the early 1800s, being an aging spinster left few choices in life.But due to the time period she lived, she was found i ...more
Apr 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
The story of Mary and Charles Lamb is fascinating. Her descent into madness (she murdered her mother) and yet her ability to rise above it an live and intellectual and gracious life is wonderful to read about. The writing was a bit flat.
Aug 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-stomach
Just so blahhhhhhhhhh.
Allison Thurman
Jan 14, 2010 marked it as to-read
Hmmmm. So far rather interesting.
May 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Too much Charles, not enough Mary.
May 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Really rates a ***1/2; found on a list from 8/10.
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