Saturday, July 2, 2016

4-Star Review of "Haunted Summer"

Review of Haunted Summer

by Anne Edwards

Bereaved and alone, Mary Shelley looks back on the first magical summer abroad she shared with her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley. 

As a teenage Mary knew as soon as she saw Shelley that her life had been touched by genius. 

There was immediately between them the volcanic forces of the erotic and the intellectual that made their final union predestined. 

But Shelley was already wed. 

Along with Mary’s half sister, Claire Clairmont, nineteen-year old Mary, and twenty-three year old Shelly eloped to Switzerland, damning themselves, and becoming fugitives from their own country. 

And Claire was also harbouring a secret: she was carrying the bastard child of Lord Byron, and had directed their trip in the hope of finding him. 

To Claire’s delight Byron shares their hotel, but Mary is worried for her, as she catches him looking upon her with disgust. 

Along with Byron was his attendant, Dr. Polidori, a handsome half-Italian, who Mary instantly takes a dislike to. 

But Shelley and Lord Byron are instantly drawn together. Both are poets; children of the Revolution; and exiles. 

And their friendship meant the five became a close group. 

Byron proposes a challenge: each should tell a ghost story. 

At firstF Mary struggles, but after searching deep within her soul, Frankenstein is born… 

As the summer days stretch on, tension starts to grow within the group. 

And it soon becomes apparent that they will eventually have to return to reality. 

Can Mary protect Claire from Byron’s true feelings? 

Will Byron’s destructive streak sabotage her relationship with Shelley? 

Haunted Summer tells a spine-chilling, gothic tale of the dark tangle of love and madness that bound together literature’s greatest Romantic figures. 

My Review:  I had a very difficult time getting into this book.  I also felt that the more complex vocabulary and language would likely be almost impossible for the average person to be able to understand.    This book was classified as "mystery, thriller" and I didn't find that appropriate.  It seemed more of a drama to me.   This book leaned heavily towards the occult and this would likely be off putting to many as it was to me.  As I read further into the book, it became more interesting to me.   It was highly unusual though and is based on the true story of the author of Frankenstein.  The story tells of the inspiration for her creation of the plot for Frankenstein,  a highly successful and popular story.  Mary and Shelley considered themselves to be "married" but he, in fact, was already married and thus became a bygamist.   Claire was mistreated and treated with disgust by Lord Byron, the father of her unborn child.   He planned to take the child to raise and would allow Claire visits with their child in disguise as an aunt of the child.   I found this to honestly be very weird.   I didn't understand how Claire could so willingly give up constant contact with her child.  I could never do this and would not even consider the possibility.   Lord Byron and his attendant, Dr. Polidori, use opium and encourage Mary, Shelley, and Claire to do the same.   They do agree after some time of refusal.   They tell ghost stories in the dark, damp cellar of the castle Lord Byron rents for the summer in Switzerland.   This adds to the gothic, frightening aspect of the ghost stories.   Shelley and Lord Byron forge a strong friendship, in great part due to the fact that both are poets.   Their poems are featured through the body of the book.   Again, I think the average reader would not comprehend the language and symbolism of these poems.  
          I rated this book 4-stars and would recommend it to a limited audience of highly educated readers and those with an appreciation for Frankenstein.
          I received this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  

About the Author:

Anne Edwards (born August 20, 1927,[1] Port Chester, New York, USA[2]) is an American author best known for her biographies of celebrities that include Princess DianaMaria CallasJudy GarlandKatharine HepburnVivien LeighMargaret MitchellRonald ReaganBarbra StreisandShirley Temple and Countess Sonya Tolstoy.
She attended University of California, Los Angeles (1943–46) and Southern Methodist University (1947–48).[2] A child performer on stage and radio, she began her writing career as a junior writer at MGM in 1944 and became a noted Hollywood screenwriter and television writer during the late 1940s and early 1950s.[2] She lived in the UK and Europe from the mid-1950s until 1972.[2] After returning to the United States in 1973, she lived in Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut before returning to Beverly Hills, California where she currently resides.[3] Her film credits include co-writing the first draft of the screenplay for the film Funny Girl(1968)[3] starring Barbra Streisand. She wrote her first novel, the best-selling The Survivors, in 1968 and subsequently (as of 2015) has written eight novels, sixteen biographies, three children's books, two memoirs (one with her late husband—composer-musicologist-pianist Stephen Citron[3]) and an autobiography. She is a past president of the Authors Guild and currently serves on its Board of Directors.[4] Her collection of literary manuscripts, papers, and related materials is now part of the Special Collections Department of theCharles E. Young Research Library[5] at UCLA, where she has taught writing.
In an interview for Publishers Weekly, Edwards said, "An idea hits me, then I develop the story or, in the case of a biography, think of a person who exemplifies that theme. Vivien [Leigh], Judy [Garland] and Sonya [Tolstoy] were vastly interesting people and symbolic of certain things: Judy, the exploitation of a woman; Vivien, somebody who suffered from manic-depression; Sonya, an intelligent woman subjugated to a man who used her, drained her, made a villain of her.

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