I adore historical fiction based on real people. This book is a fantastic combination of good writing and a fascinating historical subject.
What it’s about
The Goodreads description about this novel is delightfully short:
From Samantha Silva, the author of Mr. Dickens and His Carol, a beautiful, engrossing novel based on the life of proto-feminist icon Mary Wollstonecraft, narrated to her newborn daughter, Mary Shelley…
I haven’t read anything by Silva before, but I can vouch for Love and Fury being beautiful and engrossing.
As the title promises, this is a novel about Mary Wollstonecraft: writer, philosopher, arguably one of the world’s first feminists, and mother of Mary Shelley. I have done my research on Wollstonecraft enough to know that Silva’s novel closely follows the known events of her life, and I absolutely love the detail, thoughts, and emotions that the author filled these events out with.
The story is laid out by two women: Mrs. B, a midwife who is called to help Mary Wollstonecraft deliver her second daughter, then called back to help nurse her when she begins to suffer complications of the birth, and Mary herself, who tells her life story to her newborn. Mary takes her ‘Little Bird’ through her painful childhood, her quest for knowledge and autonomy in a time when both were hard to come by for girls and women, her unconventional relationships, and her struggles with her own feelings and thoughts. While Mary’s memories take center stage, I very much enjoyed Mrs. B’s perspectives and her thoughts about her own life relationships as she spends time with Mary’s family.
Love and Fury manages to be a slow, melancholy and atmospheric read while also having an active and engaging plot. Wollstonecraft certainly traveled about Europe in interesting times and met and knew many interesting people. It’s a story about love, families, friendships and freedom. To quote the book itself, it’s sad, glorious and beautiful.
I was fortunate to receive an ALC of the audiobook, narrated masterfully by Ell Potter, who has narrated several other books that I loved. This is a flawless audiobook, and I highly recommend it to like-minded listeners.
Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan audio for my copy in exchange for this honest review and for the chance to experience this wonderful audiobook.