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Her Lost Words

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Member Reviews

This historical novel compellingly details the lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelly. Both lived and loved outside the social norms of the Victorian era. Fascinating and bold women.

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Well researched and interesting historical fiction about to well known female authors. Their stories are so aligned however that I sometimes had trouble keeping the two Mary's straight! Both mother and daughter had such tragic lives. Both were important to the progress towards women's rights. A good one to read, especially during Women's History Month!

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Can't believe it took this long for me to read Her Lost Words. I learned so much!! Her Lost Words by Stephanie Marie Thornton brings two famous women, Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley to light. Their story will amaze you and keep you glued to the page. Fans of historical fiction will love this.

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What a unique story featuring a time when women were not equal but one stood out and created the legendary story of Frankenstein. I found this story fascinating.

Thank you #berkley and #NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review

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This historical novel compellingly details the lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelly. Both lived and loved outside the social norms of the Victorian era. Fascinating and bold women.

Thank you to the publisher for the ARC.

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I have read a few things about Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley, but had yet to read a fictional used account of their lives, and was intrigued by this one.
The dual timelines between the mother and daughter was a great way to keep the story flowing. Mary Wollstonecraft’s chapters were especially sad to read, knowing that she lived only very shortly after her daughter Mary’s birth. Mary W’s life was truly intriguing - she led such a different life than what was expected of a woman of her time. Her courage was truly revolutionary - she refused to cater to society’s expectations of her and was able to support herself throughout her life with the unfailing support of her publisher.
I definitely recommend this one for anyone who is intrigued by either of their writings, or who just wants to read a well written, fictionalized account of their lives!

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It seemed especially fitting that I ended Women’s History Month by reading Her Lost Words by Stephanie Marie Thornton. It was published this week and is a great look at the lives of Mary Shelley and her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft.

Even if you have never read the novel, I am sure you are familiar with Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein. I loved that this book gave me a glimpse into the woman who wrote this ground- breaking novel and the woman, her mother, who inspired her to write, even though Shelley never had a chance to know her mother.

Imagine a feminist in the late 1700’s. Mary Wollstonecraft was definitely ahead of her time, even writing A Vindication of the Rights of Women in which she dares to proclaim that women are equal to men. I absolutely loved her story and how the author wove the stories of the two women together to give us a full picture.

Thanks so much to @BerkleyPub for my advanced ecopy of this interesting book. It has made me want to look even deeper into both of these extraordinary women.

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Thornton could write about the evolution of the napkin and I would read it. When two of my favorite writers both came out with books surrounding Mary Shelley I was concerned. I needn't have worried. Thornton takes two literary powerhouses and makes them real. Each woman made unconventional choices and led unconventional lives. Both Wollstonecraft and Shelley were women who believed they could have it all and live life on their terms and no one else's. What they wanted wasn't wrong, it was just different. Having never researched or read about either woman, I had no knowledge of the depth of their contributions. Wollstonecraft paved the way for women's equality. Shelley created an entirely new genre of fiction. Each woman struggled to find love on their terms and not be ostracized because of it. I can say one thing, by the end the reader will more than likely want to smack Lord Byron upside the head!

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley.

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Her Lost Words is moving and beautifully written historical fiction on the lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley. Their love of literature, zeal for language, radical feminist beliefs, and challenges they faced in their lives during the 18th and 19th centuries are genuinely inspiring.

I don’t have enough words for Her Lost Words. I knew nothing about Mary Wollstonecraft and her books before I read this, nor I knew she was the mother of Mary Shelley, Frankenstein’s author that also I haven’t read yet and I also don’t know anything about Mary Shelly’s life. So Her Lost Words has been informative and educational for me.

The pace is slow but the writing is so beautiful that I devoured every word or every page. The story is written in dual timeline with alternative perspectives of Mary Wollstonecraft (from 1775 to 1979) and Mary Shelley (from 1814 to 1831). It was hard to remember what happened in which year (unless you have taken notes) but I was never confused with their perspectives and life stories.

Her Lost Words covers theme and layers of gender inequality, women’s position in male dominant world and industry, impact of war and revolution on the country and people, injustice and biased legal system towards women, childbirth issues and diseases around this era.

It was amazing to read the parallel life story of mother and daughter that showed they have so many things in common and how deep the connection was even though they never got to know each other and how their words and love tethered them to each other and the world that never has been kind to them.

It’s unfathomable to think how they might have lived with their modern and independent thoughts in the era in which women had no rights to education, no rights to think, even less to voice them, and were expected to live by social norms under male dominance… If they deviated from it they were shunned, spit on in streets, called crazy witches, or were locked in the asylum!

It was admirable how Mary Wollstonecraft escaped her abusive father, found a job as a governess, and then paved her path to famous author in London with only clothes on her body, no money, and only one priced possession- her manuscript ‘Thoughts on the Education of Daughters’ that was rejected by more than a dozen publishers until she found Joseph Johnson who later published all her books and also been supportive with her trip to France only to return back to London with heartbreak and betrayal. I loved how she recovered from betrayal and found her way back to independence, hope, and also love. Her fierce, determined, and unshakable spirit is what made her inspiring and admirable.

While Mary Wallstonecraft’s life was touching and heartfelt, Mary Shalley’s (Mary Godwin before marriage) was even more tragic. When she met Percy Shelley in her father’s bookshop, it was clear he was a trouble and I wasn’t ready to trust him even though it was clear from her name and title, they later got married. Percy was married at that time with a kid and still, he flirted with Mary Godwin and it looked like both her sisters were under his spell.

Their elopement at first sounded big mistake but I get how Mary Godwin felt, desperate to find a connection with her mother and believing in her words about free love and disbelief in social customs, especially marriage, wanting to retrace her footstep to know her better and so running away with Percy looked more right to her and I was relieved to see she wasn’t wrong in believing in heart.

What I loved most in her story is how testing Mary Godwin and Percy Shelley’s relationship was. Life was constant difficulties for Mary Godwin and Percy Shelley until they were forced to marry and even after that life wasn’t easy for them.

What I didn’t expect was soul-shattering series of tragedies in the second half. It made me ugly cry till the end of the book. I was shocked there was no one there for them not even their own families. It feels impossible to live through all these tragedies yet Mary Shelley did and not just lived but made name for herself which was even more inspiring and motivating than her mother’s life story.

From what I read in a Google search there are other things that were fictionalized that aren’t mentioned in notes, like Fanny’s life – she wasn’t as disfigured and depressed as shown in books and her suicide has been a mystery- and about Mary Shelley’s stepmother, Jane Clairemont- She wasn’t a nice person. I cannot validate the sources but whether fictional or real I loved the twist author gave to Jane’s character in the end and how she helped Mary to connect with her mother and also inspired her to write more.

It was interesting to read in the author’s notes about which parts were changed or fictionalized and which were kept close to facts. I agree with what author said in the notes, “this is a love letter to two brilliant women who lit the way for not just women writers, but all women.”

What I loved most is snippets from the work of authors in this book – Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron. It was also interesting to read mentions of some well-known and some forgotten historical figures of the era.

Overall, Her Lost Words is emotive, poignant, touching, inspiring, and beautifully written historical fiction on the life of Mary Wollstonecraft, one of the world’s founding feminist philosophers, and her daughter Mary Shelley, mother of modern sci-fi literature.

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Her Lost Words traces the lives of literary giants Mary Shelley and her mother, Mary Wollstonecroft. The novel explores their experiences, works, loves, family, ideas, their contradictions, struggles, failures, triumphs.
Fundamentally, it's a story of how women understand themselves, where they come from, and where they want to go in late-18th/early 19th-century Britain.

I picked the book up because Frankenstein has long been one of my favourite books. I loved this glimpse into the experiences, ideas, and relationships that would have inspired and informed the author.

Things I liked about the book were its pacing, the complex, well-crafted characters, and the prose. I particularly liked the twist at the end.

I feel some of the sentences needed polish. The syntax was at times clunky. While repetition can help establish themes, word and phrase repetition (which was pervasive through the book) comes across as less intentional and reads as a bit sloppy. One of my biggest beefs was the use of anachronistic phrasing, usually in dialogue; there was one scene where the author seems to misunderstand the different historic meaning of a phrase still in use today (she assumes a sexual connotation where historically the connotation was emotional). Rather than achieving linguistic relatability, which seems to be the intention, I found it jarred me from the historic setting, especially because the quotes from the actual figures' works show how different their authentic language was.

I wanted more of a sense of Fanny as a character. For a feminist story, she's quite two-dimensional, existing mostly as a lovelorn young woman or a prelinguistic child. Unlike with Claire, who we see in flashes unfiltered by narration, Fanny is delivered almost wholly second-hand.

Overall, a decent book, but a one-time read. I'd recommend it to fans of Shilpi Somaya Gowda's Secret Daughter.

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A brilliant and unforgettable portrait of two remarkable women. I knew very little about Mary Wollestoncraft, other than her fame for writing "Vindications of the Rights of Woman," and I was fascinated to learn her life story, as if told from her own pen in the most personal of memoirs. I thought I knew Mary Shelley's story -- because I've read several biographies and seen movies about her, but this novel brought her young self to life in a way that felt 100% real and settled deep in my soul. I loved the author's portrayal of Percy Shelley, William Godwin, and both Marys -- their deep intelligence, fiery passions for the men they loved, devotion and love for their children, desire for change where women's status is concerned, and staunch determination to flout society, follow their hearts, and be free and undefined by a legal connection to a man (although that didn't work out well for either of them). They both suffered so many highs and lows -- literary triumphs, incredible loving relationships with accomplished and passionate men, and yet so much death and loss -- it hurts to contemplate. But, life is not fair. We can't predict the hand we'll be dealt. Despite all the tragedies, these women accomplished a great deal and made their stamp on history. It's a lesson for us all to persevere, follow our dreams, and enjoy the good times while they last, for we never know what's around the corner. Bravo!

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Book Review

Thank you to @berkleypub @netgalley @letstalkbookspromo for the #gifted copy of the book! I enjoyed this #buddyread

Her Lost Words by Stephanie Marie Thornton

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: @berkleypub
Pub Date: March 28, 2023

Have you ever started a book and thought I will never get through it only to really end up loving it? That was totally this book for me. I LOVED IT. For some reason, historical fiction is really hard for me to read. I almost always love the books, but I just struggle getting started.

I really didn't know much about Mary Shelly other than she wrote Frankenstein and y'all know I am a big horror fan so getting to learn about both her and her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, turned out to be very eye opening! I am definitely wanting to go read From a Vindication of the Rights of Woman written by Wollstonecraft. This book was written in dual timelines and was Shelly's quest to learn more about her mother who died when she was just a baby. I found their lives very fascinating and the way in which they felt about relationships. The author did an amazing job with this story and added in a note at the end to explain why she took certain liberties in her writing. I highly recommend this book if you are a fan of Shelly!

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The author, whose books I adore, has written a brilliant histfic tale about two remarkable women: Mary Wollstonecraft -- considered the first feminist -- and her daughter Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein -- considered the first science fiction writer.

Thornton has a gift for capturing women who change history with her elegant prose, authentic settings, and stories that grip from first page to last. A must-read!

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Her Lost Words provided me with a glimpse into the lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley. I was not too familiar with either of these amazing women and was eager to dive into their worlds.

The book was well researched and told their stories in alternating chapters. At times, I did find the plots to mirror each other almost too well in that I would get a little lost as to which Mary I was reading about, but both women lived incredible lives. I appreciate historical fiction novels for shedding light on women who have been lost to history in a way. I can definitely see how this book would inspire the reader to read the works of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley to learn more about these talented women.

I received this book courtesy of the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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This novel is the story of two literary icons, Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter, Mary Shelley. To say I didn't get confused with two main characters named "Mary" would be an understatement. These women were truly ahead of their time. Thornton gives voice to their stories, bringing them to life for the reader.

I learned about two women in literature I had zero knowledge. While this book wasn't a perfect read for me, others I'm sure will love it and what it shares. While fictional, I am sure bits are true to the journey each took to transform the world with their words.

Thank you Berkey Publishing for the complimentary copy.

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Much appreciation to Thornton for giving life to two literary idols, Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley, and for crafting a novel that expresses their relationship even though the former died in childbirth, leaving the latter to reconstruct her mother's life from her writings, as well as develop her own, including founding a new genre!

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A brilliantly written book on two female literary geniuses who paved the way for the women of today.

Told in dual pov and timelines; this was an enlightening read of how a mother and daughter navigated their life of loss, grief, love and survival by choosing the written word to express themselves and the goings on at that time.

A very moving read that is a must read for all.

Thank you @berittalksbooks and @dg_reads for setting up this buddy read and @netgalley and @berkleyromance for the arc.

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Well done.

This was a fantastic historical fiction book detailing the lives of two extraordinary women, a mother and daughter both named Mary: Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Godwin Shelley.

The book is told in dual narratives, we see how much their two lives were paralleled. Unfortunately, Wollstonecraft died shortly after giving birth to her daughter, so the younger Mary never knew her mother other than her writings and what very litter her father told her.

Both were accomplished writers at a very young age, and during a time when women were not known to do anything other than marry, have kids and keep house. It was shocking for a woman to have serious thoughts and opinions as it may “overtax their limited brains”.

The book follows the relationships and struggles to live as independent women, while also loving the men in their lives. They both lived scandalous lives as one did not have a child out of wedlock. Yes, times have changed!

These two did much to help change the view that women were capable of much more than previously accounted for.

The author did an excellent job in this biographical fictional novel, and the author’s note where she details what was changed or modified is not to be missed.

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Thank you @berkleypub, @letstalkbookspromo, and @stephaniemariethornton for the gifted copy of the novel!

⁉️: Have you read the works of Mary Wollstonecraft or Mary Shelley? What did you think of them?

What It’s About?

From A Vindication of the Rights of Woman to Frankenstein, a tale of two literary legends—a mother and daughter—discovering each other and finding themselves along the way.

Thoughts 💭:

When I was working on my doctorate exams, I had chosen to write for the women’s, gender, and sexuality studies track, and I chose to work on the list 1700s and after. Amongst the exams, I studied Mary Wollstonecraft’s seminal essay along with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I was so excited when I saw that there was a historical fiction genre novel that explores their story and gives readers a chance to engage with them and their texts,

Told in dual timelines, the novel begins in 1792 when we learn about Wollstonecraft’s childhood and decision to write A Vindication on The Rights of Woman, I was drawn to her story. The moments that stood out to me was the great sheer of resistance she received as she was trying to publish her essay. The novel, then, shifts focus to 1818, when we follow Mary Shelly, the author of Frankenstein, who desperately longs for her mother and eventually elopes with Percy Bysshe Shelly.

Frankenstein is also one of my favorite novels of all times! :)

A riveting and inspiring novel about a firebrand feminist, her visionary daughter, and the many ways their words transformed our world!

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Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley have become niche historical interests of mine, so I was excited to receive an early copy of this book. I sometimes find fictionalized biographies boring, but the lives of these two incredible women held my interest the whole way through. From the French Revolution to scandalous love affairs, family tragedies, and battles with mental illness, it was fascinating to learn the events that shaped these women's lives and the circumstances that inspired their famous writings.

Thank you to the publisher for an early copy of this novel. All thoughts are my own.

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