Summary and book reviews of Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson

Frankissstein

by Jeanette Winterson

Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson X
Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson
  • Critics' Opinion:

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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2019, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2020, 366 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Butts
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About this Book

Book Summary

What will happen when homo sapiens is no longer the smartest being on the planet? In fiercely intelligent prose, Jeanette Winterson shows us how much closer we are to that future than we realize. Funny and furious, bold and clear-sighted, Frankissstein is a love story about life itself.

Since her astonishing debut at twenty-five with Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson has achieved worldwide critical and commercial success as "one of the most daring and inventive writers of our time" (Elle).

Her new novel, Frankissstein, is an audacious love story that weaves together disparate lives into an exploration of transhumanism, artificial intelligence, and queer love.

Lake Geneva, 1816. Nineteen-year-old Mary Shelley is inspired to write a story about a scientist who creates a new life-form. In Brexit Britain, a young transgender doctor called Ry is falling in love with Victor Stein, a celebrated professor leading the public debate around AI and carrying out some experiments of his own in a vast underground network of tunnels. Meanwhile, Ron Lord, just divorced and living with his mom again, is set to make his fortune launching a new generation of sex dolls for lonely men everywhere. Across the Atlantic, in Phoenix, Arizona, a cryogenics facility houses dozens of bodies of men and women who are medically and legally dead… but waiting to return to life.

Lake Geneva, 1816

Reality is water-soluble.


What we could see, the rocks, the shore, the trees, the boats on the lake, had lost their usual definition and blurred into the long grey of a week's rain. Even the house, that we fancied was made of stone, wavered inside a heavy mist and through that mist, sometimes, a door or a window appeared like an image in a dream.

Every solid thing had dissolved into its watery equivalent.


Our clothes did not dry. When we came in, and we must come in, because we must go out, we brought the weather with us. Waterlogged leather. Wool that stank of sheep.

There is mould on my underclothes.


This morning I had the idea to walk naked. What is the use of sodden cloth? Of covered buttons so swollen in their buttonholes that I had to be cut out of my dress yesterday?

This morning my bed was as wet as if I had sweated all night. The windows were misty with my own breath. Where the fire burned in the grate the wood hissed like a dejection of nature. I left...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Frankissstein is funny and delightfully weird. The author's penchant for flouting conventions and genre norms has been fully and completely realized in this magnum opus. The magic of the novel is its philosophical daring and imaginative construction. Winterson moves back and forth through time weaving together themes and symbols, and asking bold questions about the relationship between humans and machines...continued

Full Review (643 words).

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(Reviewed by Lisa Butts).

Media Reviews

New York Times
This novel is talky, smart, anarchic and quite sexy. You begin to linger on those three s’s when you speak the title aloud. Frankissstein also has, if you squint just slightly, an intelligent soul. Winterson has always been interested in gender fluidity and there is room, in our glimpses of Ry, for real feeling between the satire and bickering.

Washington Post
[Winterson's] Frankissstein, longlisted for this year’s Booker Prize, is a brainy, batty story — an unholy amalgamation of scholarship and comedy. She manages to pay homage to Shelley’s insight and passion while demonstrating her own extraordinary creativity... With diabolical ingenuity, she’s found a way to inject fresh questions about humanity’s future into the old veins of Frankenstein.

The Guardian (UK)
[A] dazzlingly intelligent meditation on the responsibilities of creation, the possibilities of artificial intelligence and the implications of both transsexuality and transhumanism…Winterson's great gift as a writer…is the ability to inject pure thought with such freewheeling enthusiasm and energy that ideas take on their own kind of joyous life. Frankissstein abounds with invention.

Observer (UK)
A surge of inventiveness…Frankissstein is a book that seeks to shift our perspective on humanity and the purpose of being human in the most darkly entertaining way…gloriously well observed.

BBC News (UK)
A hold-on-to-your hat modern-day horror story about very modern-day neuroses and issues.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Winterson is asking are questions that have always been with us. What is love? What is life? What am I, and what do I desire to be? Of course Winterson has no answers; what she offers instead is a passionate plea that we keep asking these questions...Beguiling, disturbing, and full of wonders.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
This vividly imagined and gorgeously constructed novel will have readers laughing out loud—and then pondering their personhood and mortality on the next page.

Library Journal (starred review)
As the subtitle declares, this is a love story, paralleling the relationship between Mary Shelley and Percy Shelley and that between Ry and Victor. The forthright description of nonbinary choice forms a replete example of embracing transgender experience, and both Victor Stein and Victor Frankenstein are finally shown to be illusory characters, adding spookiness. Highly recommended.

Author Blurb Margaret Atwood
Hilarious but serious time-travel gambol with Frankenstein: modern doubles into AI, cryogenics, and sexbots. (Hint: Mod. Byron does not come out of it well.)

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Beyond the Book

The Luddite Protests

LudditeIn one narrative thread of Jeanette Winterson's Frankissstein, Mary and Percy Shelley and Lord Byron discuss the rebellion of the Luddites, a secret organization in early 19th century England that destroyed textile machinery in protest of automated looms taking jobs from hand-weavers. The uprising began on March 11, 1811, in Nottingham when weavers broke into a textile factory and destroyed equipment using sledgehammers and other implements. The next night brought further property damage at a factory in a nearby town, and the incidents continued to repeat all across northern England over the next two years. After the initial attacks, the protesters began conducting secret meetings to organize and plan further action. They claimed to be ...

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