A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankensteins, and the Creation of Mary Shelley's Masterpiece
by Roseanne Montillo 5 Feb 2013
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Told with the verve and ghoulish fun of a Tim Burton film, The Lady and Her Monsters is a highly entertaining blend of literary history, lore, and early scientific exploration that traces the origins of the greatest horror story of all timeMary Shelley's Frankenstein
Exploring the frightful milieu in which Frankenstein was written, Roseanne Montillo, an exciting new literary talent, recounts how Shelley's Victor Frankenstein mirrored actual scientists of the period. Montillo paints a rich portrait of Shelley and her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and their contemporaries and their friend Lord Byron. Intellectually curious, they were artists, poets, and philosophers, united in captivation with the occultists and daring scientists risking their reputations and their immortal souls to advance our understanding of human anatomy and medicine.
These remarkable investigations could not be undertaken without the cutthroat grave robbers who prowled cemeteries for a supply of fresh corpses. The newly dead were used for both private and very public autopsies and dissections, as well as the most daring trials of all: attempts at human reanimation through the application of electricity.
Juxtaposing monstrous mechanization and rising industrialism with the sublime beauty and decadence of the legendary Romantics who defined the age, Montillo takes us into a world where poets become legends in salons and boudoirs; where fame-hungry "doctors" conduct shocking performances for rabid, wide-eyed audiences; and where maniacal body snatchers secretly toil in castle dungeons.
"Starred Review. A delicious and enticing journey into the origins of a masterpiece." - Publishers Weekly
"Starred Review. Montillo is an academic but unafraid of salaciousness, injecting into her tale an invigorating solution of sex, gore, and gossip as we reach both the end of Mary's woeful life and the end of the anatomists' grave-robbing free-for-all as it ceded to the Anatomy Act. Sick, smart, shocking, and spellbinding." - Booklist
"The Lady and Her Monsters will appeal to both history buffs and literature fans. I was entertained and educated at the same time - and you can't go wrong with that combo." - A Book Geek