Reviews

REVIEWS FOR ALMOST INVINCIBLE

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A Great Read

This novel gives the reader insight into the world of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein and wife of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. I thought I knew a bit about Mary but I was shocked to realize she was only 16 when she eloped with Shelley (who was already married with a child!). And I was fascinated by the conflicted relationship between Mary and her step-sister Claire who was a constant pain in Mary’s life. Their lives were full of drama and emotional upheaval.

The novel brings all the characters to life in a very vivid way. And it gave me a new admiration for Mary’s achievement in creating Frankenstein. And I’d much rather learn about her through a novel than through reading a dry biography. This book gives me a real feel for Mary and the life she lived. – 4 STARS

Reviewed by Paddington Bear on Amazon

Compelling novel for those interested in learning more about Mary Shelley

After drawing her readers into each chapter with a literary quote, the author uses references from Greek mythology as well as devices such as alliteration, metaphors and similes which build each scene for her characters’ interactions to unfold. I particularly liked the anthropomorphism of ‘London stretching its early morning limbs’.

We witness some of Mary’s experiences which subsequently influenced the plot in Frankenstein, as the bohemian family continue their nomadic life in Europe. Whilst they are plagued by a series of misfortunes, they find a measure of contentment among the expat community in Italy, along with some local and international intelligentsia.

We sympathise with Mary as she continues to struggle with her nemesis. The altruistic, philanthropic and unworldly Shelley takes every cause to heart but appears unable to acknowledge the pain caused to Mary (now his wife) by the ever-present self-centred Claire. It is challenging to blend historical facts with fictional emotions but Ms Burdon manages it superbly.

The pace of the novel is well-balanced and the author has clearly researched her subject thoroughly. She gives us glimpses of incidents of the time, including the Spa Field Riots of 1816, as well as the Peterloo Massacre and the Pentrich Rising of 1817. References to the couple’s work are cleverly interspersed throughout which also anchors this tale in its place in history.

Ultimately, this is a love story with the underlying themes being the belief the couple have in each other’s talent as well as their independence of mind. I would recommend “Almost Invincible” to anyone with an interest in Mary Shelley or who likes historical family drama. I found this novel compelling and award it five stars.

Reviewed by Julie at Whispering Stories Book Blog.

A fascinating life!

The life and creativity of Mary Shelley continues to fascinate long after her death. In this version of her life, we are given a close glimpse into the people that helped shape her destiny – how the death of her writer mother impacted her, how her love for Percy Bysshe sucked her into a lower status and a bit of a debauched social life, her relationship with Lord Byron, and the responsibility she carried for her step-sister Claire Clairmont. Her loves, her sources for inspiration, and her talents are highlighted in wonderful detail.

The book’s pace is slow, but it is a biographical and is to be expected because of the research and details that have been included. Mary was not afraid to break with convention and face scandal. I think it is this that fascinates readers because she is of the Victorian era with strict morals and social norms. If you’re looking for an accurate, rich, and descriptive biography about Shelley, then this is the book to read! Very well done!

Reviewed By Great Historicals

Great historical read! The story of Mary Shelley has to be known!

A great historical read! Suzanne Burdon uses an extensive list of historical sources to create an engaging fictional biography about the life of Mary Shelley. Learn how she eloped at 16 with her future husband and the events that influenced her literary genius – Frankenstein! – 5 STARS

Review by Stephanie Barnes on Amazon

Can’t recommend it more highly

Remarkable insight into the lives of the Shelley’s. It is a totally absorbing book that is so well written – the research is meticulous and I just wanted to keep reading it.
Can’t recommend it more highly. – 5 STARS

Review by S M Simkins on Amazon

Be Transformed into Shelley’s World

So atmospheric, you are in the room with these famous people, feeling what they are feeling, looking at events through their eyes and seeing why they did what they did and said what they said. A rare quality for an historical work!! The author has worked so hard to research the period and the specific events, the evidence both written and physical, this shows in the way you are transported into Shelley’s world. It is a great read. – 5 STARS

Review by Matty on Amazon

CATHERINE ROSE PUTSCHE BOOK REVIEW

“Provocative and profound, with brilliant characterisation, Suzanne Burdon’s dazzling novel, ´Almost Invincible´ skilfully blends fact and fiction into a realistic portrayal of some of the mysteries and day-to-day events surrounding Mary Shelly’s life!”

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REBECCA’S BOOK REVIEW

“She is singularly bold, somewhat imperious, and active of mind. Her desire of knowledge is great, and her perseverance in everything else she undertakes, almost invincible.”

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CODICES QUALITY BOOK REVIEWS

With unmatched pleasure I would like to present our latest book review. Today’s title is “Almost Invincible”, a biography novel about the life of Mary Shelley. The book features the events of her life and her deep relationship with Shelley, including all hardships that fate bestowed on the couple.
Some of the readers may know that she is my favourite author of all time, so I couldn’t stop reading the novel until the last page. And I must say that I am not only thrilled by it’s style and narration, but also the depth of the book. Even if you do not know much about Mary’s life, you will absolutely start to adore her, because of the w story that the author has crafted.

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THEREVIEW.COM.UK

Thank you to ‘Paula’s People’ on TheReview.com.uk for featuring ‘Almost Invincible’ and highlighting the turbulent life of Mary Shelley, author of the gothic classic ‘Frankenstien’

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CHASING FIREFLIES REVIEW

The story follows Mary’s life as a young woman who elopes with her poetic lover and grows into a married woman who has to endure tragedy and hardship. Almost Invincible is a detailed and engaging read throughout. If you enjoy historical stories, this is on my favourites list.

My latest review courtesy of Chasing Fireflies. Thank you for the kind words!

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4 STARS

The Lady magazine UK 24th April 2015

 Meticulously researched, Burdon’s novel follows the author of Frankenstein across England and Europe, taking in the scandalous elopement with Shelley, their turbulent relationship and their Bohemian circle, which included Lord Byron. Afresh and gripping portrayal of this enigmatic literary genius.

Lancashire Evening Post , 14th October 2014

The spark that ignited the relationship between poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his author wife Mary came close to being extinguished by the ‘third person’ in their marriage.

Claire Clairmont, Mary’s bold, flirtatious stepsister, was a constant presence in the lives of the two literary giants during their nine turbulent years together. The lover of another famous poet Lord Byron, and reputedly in love with Shelley too, the manipulative Claire brought Mary almost to breaking point.

 

Debut author Suzanne Burdon’s impressive fictional tale of Mary Shelley’s creative but tragedy-scarred life blends real events with a compelling emotional exploration of the flesh-and-blood woman who gave us the classic novel Frankenstein.

Almost Invincible places readers at the beating heart of Mary’s unconventional liaison with Shelley which shattered all 18th century notions of respectability and drove the couple onto a nomadic trail through Europe to escape censure.

Burdon admits she was seduced into telling a fictional account of Mary’s story by biographies which gave a glimpse of her as an eclectic mix of teenage rebel, grieving mother, determined author and the lover of a man well ahead of his time.

When Mary Shelley starts writing Frankenstein at the Villa Diodati near Lake Geneva in 1816, she is just eighteen years old, mother of a six-month-old son, and has been living for two years in a scandalous relationship with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley who has a wife and children back home in England.

With her and Shelley are Byron who has also fled controversy in London, his doctor John Polidori and Mary’s stepsister Claire who is having an affair with Byron and has just announced that she is expecting his baby.

The other notable conception is, of course, Mary’s novel which is penned as lightning flashes across the lake outside and Byron suggests that they should all write a ghost story.

It is a turning point in Mary’s life, the moment when her writing prowess comes to the fore and proves that she is not just ‘a balloon filled with creative literary gases’ distilled from her talented parents, author Mary Wollstonecraft and thinker William Godwin, but which had so far failed to rise.

When she eloped with Shelley, Mary had been quite prepared to suffer condemnation from society but what she hadn’t reckoned on was her jealousy of Claire who ran away with them and is also in love with Shelley.

Even Byron, who was once seduced by Claire’s charms and flashing eyes, now detests her outspokenness, her sarcasm and her frequent bouts of hysteria.

Over the coming years, as Mary and Shelley move constantly throughout England, Switzerland and Italy, escaping creditors, censorious families and ill health, Mary’s devotion to her poet husband is strained to its limits.

And even in Italy, their spiritual home and ‘paradise of exiles,’ the deaths of her children nearly break Mary’s spirit again. Her writing becomes her grip on sanity along with Shelley’s unwavering belief in her creative genius…

Burdon’s research for Almost Invincible was far-reaching and involved travels across the UK, America and Europe, but the payback has been enormous. Landscapes spring to glorious life, there is an evocative sense of time and place, and authentic dialogue adds colour and texture to a torrid tale of love, rivalry and genius.

The bohemian, scandalous world of Shelley, his wife Mary, the sardonic and self-centred Byron and capricious Claire is vividly portrayed with all its drama, heartbreak and emotional turmoil.

A fascinating study of the fall-out from creative genius…

 

5 STARS

A great read March 7, 2015

By Alanah

Format:Paperback

 

Whilst not enjoying history at school, of recent times I have become a reader of historical fiction as a way of exploring the past, particularly that of women. Not knowing much more than that Mary Shelley wrote ‘Frankenstein’, I decided to delve a little more into Mary’s life with Suzanne Burdon’s biographical novel “Almost Invincible”. The book took me on a fascinating journey through the early life of a woman whose life was anything but what I would have expected.

 

Born Mary Godwin in 1797, young Mary grew up in the intellectually stimulating environment generated by her father William’s involvement in liberal politics. Though she died when Mary was 11 days old, Mary’s own mother was the feminist and philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft, author of ‘A Vindication of the Rights of women’. It was not surprising then that Mary’s love of knowledge, active mind, ability to write and perseverance set her on an extra-ordinary life journey.

 

 

Burdon gives us up close and personal glimpses into the day-to-day life of Mary’s years with Percy Bysshe Shelley, from their 1814 meeting by her mother’s grave, his visits to attend political discussions at her father’s house, their romantic relationship in spite of Shelley’s marriage to and family with Harriet Westbrook, their travels in Europe and in Italy, where they spent time with Lord Byron, their marriage, Percy’s death in 1822 and Mary’s life after Percy. Whilst Mary and Percy travelled through Europe to have a life together and to escape ostracism, poverty and constant debt, their efforts were complicated by their travelling companion Mary’s step-sister Claire Clairmont.

 

I enjoyed this book for the insights it gives into the life not only of the author of ‘Frankenstein’ but also into the times in which she lived. I recommend it to you as a wonderful and enjoyable telling of the story of Mary Shelley’s extraordinary journey.

 

4 STARS

I really loved this book 4 December 2014

By Christine Shale

Format:Kindle Edition

I really loved this book. From the start, I became absorbed in the story of Mary Shelley and the characters who helped develop her character and in some cases, threatened to break her spirit. The author clearly researched her subject well and brought alive to me, all the characters, settings and all the difficulties facing women in Mary’s situation. I strongly recommend reading this historical novel.

 

5 STARS

A little gem September 15, 2014

By Wendy Cox

This book is a terrific read. I have bought numerous copies as gifts for family and friends. If it wasn’t based on real people and actual events, it would make a wonderful work of fiction. But it is about real people who lived extraordinary lives. It only takes a couple of chapters of important scene setting to get going and then it takes off.

The story is told beautifully and makes for riveting reading. The characters jump off the page and the descriptions of locations and settings are captivating. The characters have so much of interest to say and it is if the author had a tape recorder hidden away with the Shelley entourage – such is the texture and intricacy of the dialogue.

Not being one to love historical books, I found this book absolutely charming and engaging. I have no doubt the author spent a lot of time researching the background and characters as one feels transported back to another era.

 

5 STARS

Insight into a Different, Mainly Lost World August 25, 2014

By Matty

So atmospheric, you are in the room with these famous people, feeling what they are feeling, looking at events through their eyes and seeing why they did what they did and said what they said. A rare quality for an historical work!! The author has worked so hard to research the period and the specific events, the evidence both written and physical, this shows in the way you are transported into Shelley’s world. It is a great read.

 

5 STARS

A Riveting Biography 14 August 2014

By Margaret Vischer

This is a beautifully written, well researched book about real people who led extraordinary lives. Mary Shelley’s life is particularly fascinating, I am amazed at how she managed to survive so many tragic events. The descriptions of locations and settings are enchanting and the characters come alive on the page. It would make a wonderful movie

 

5 STARS

I love historical novels 30 July 2014

By BRIDGET I CAMERON

Format:Kindle Edition

I love historical novels, and this book is no exception. Beautifully written, the characters came alive and I was held to the end, and afterwards too. Highly recommended.

 

4 STARS

A Great Read July 15, 2014

By Paddington Bear

This novel gives the reader insight into the world of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein and wife of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. I thought I knew a bit about Mary but I was shocked to realize she was only 16 when she eloped with Shelley (who was already married with a child!). And I was fascinated by the conflicted relationship between Mary and her step-sister Claire who was a constant pain in Mary’s life. Their lives were full of drama and emotional upheaval.

The novel brings all the characters to life in a very vivid way. And it gave me a new admiration for Mary’s achievement in creating Frankenstein. And I’d much rather learn about her through a novel than through reading a dry biography. This book gives me a real feel for Mary and the life she lived.

 

July 2014

Belinda Giblin (Actor)

Suzanne Burdon has written a superb fictional account of Shelley’s life and melded real life drama with imaginings to create a gripping debut novel.

 

 

 

 

 

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