Jackie's Reviews > Passion: A Novel of the Romantic Poets

Passion by Jude Morgan
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's review
Aug 03, 2012

really liked it
Read from July 31 to August 04, 2012 , read count: 1

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 this well worth the read. I liked Morgan's decision to show the men only through the eyes of the women; it gives you a much stronger sense of the limitations of how much we ever really know the ones we love. The men come off surprisingly well, even given all their emotional failings. The real villains of the story turn out to be other women: Mary Jane Clairmont Godwin, who blights the young Mary Godwin's life when she marries her idolized father and foists on her a bitter sibling rival in the form of the outgoing attention-loving Jane (later Claire); and Annabella Milbanke, who marries Byron out of the mistaken hope she can make him a better (as she defines it) man, then ruins his reputation by leaving him and suing him for a formal separation. Misogyny or truth? Or a bit of both? Makes me eager to read actual biographies to find out. And to watch the film BRIGHT STAR again...
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Quotes Jackie Liked

“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.”
Jude Morgan, Passion: A Novel of the Romantic Poets

“What did she love Shelley for? His reckless spontaneity -- like this. His helpless generous nature -- like this. His treatment of her as a reasonable human being and not a trembling little rose -- and so on. If she loved him for these things, could she hate him for them? Could she?”
Jude Morgan, Passion: A Novel of the Romantic Poets

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