Samantha's Reviews > Pride and Prometheus

Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel
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really liked it

I'm a fan of both Jane Austen and Mary Shelley, so I was on board with the concept of this book before I even opened it. I'm also a fan of back and side door stories that explore a beloved work from another angle. Kessel found the "holes" in the telling of Frankenstein and filled in the untold parts in believable and engaging ways.

I enjoyed seeing Mary Bennett in this new light. She was a comparatively minor character in Pride and Prejudice, seemingly just there for color and for contrast to Lizzie and Lydia. I have to admit that I never gave her much thought in all my readings of P&P. The idea of her as a woman scholar with no opportunity or focus for her academic interest because of her time and station of birth intrigued me.

Mary, in P&P, is a moralizer, quite sure despite her youth that she is an expert in moral philosophy, so who better than her to step into the pages of Frankenstein and find that moral quandaries are more complicated than she ever realized? Throughout the book, she builds relationships with Victor Frankenstein and his creation, and learns a lot about appearance and truth.

The prose was beautiful and in keeping with the style of Austen and Shelley, though the tone stayed dark and angsty so it felt more like Mary wandered into Frankenstein's story rather than like the two stories truly melded. But of all the Bennett sisters, Mary had the darkest mind, so it was fitting.

My only complaint is that it dragged a bit when we saw the same scene from different perspectives. While the additional points of view were interesting, it made for some repetition of events, which slowed the pace. There were also a couple of coincidences (the arrival of Henry, and the meeting with the sea captain) that made it difficult to maintain my suspension of disbelief, as they were awfully convenient to the story. I can see the temptation, though, as the arrival of that sea captain let the end of Frankenstein back into the book and gave Mary one more chance for a moral realization.

All in all, delightful, especially for fans of either or both of the source material books.
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Reading Progress

June 13, 2019 – Started Reading
June 13, 2019 – Shelved
June 19, 2019 – Finished Reading

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