Frankisstein (a love story)
Absolutely genial and profound.
I wasn’t sure what to expect because I don’t really know Winterson’s style (I had only read her first biography ‘Oranges are not the only fruit’ which I loved, but not any other of her books) AND I’d never read the original Mary Shelley’s classic.
I needn’t have worried, although I do think it helps knowing a little about Frankestein’s story and about Mary and her husband, the poet Percy Shelley. (In all honesty all I knew was gained from watching the movie about her life – entitled, funnily enough ‘Mary Shelley’… jokes aside, it’s a good movie)
The book, beautifully written is hard to describe although in short is a re-telling of the famous tale in modern times; the plot shifts from when Mary and Percy are staying with Byron and other guests in a villa on Lake Geneva where Byron challenges them all to write a scary story… – the rest is history, for Mary – … these scenes are wonderful and atmospheric and gothic… to a dystopian not too distant future where a transgender Dr Ry (short for … yes, Mary) Shelley falls in love with an AI genius called Victor Stein, obsessed with living forever. There is a lot more to the plot, but I don’t want to spoil it too much because it’s an incredibly clever book that weaves together a lot of the issues we are facing: gender, identity, artificial intelligence, immortality, robots. It is also about the agency we have in choosing who we are in the world.
It’s a book that makes you question what does it mean to be human. What makes us who we are? is it our mind? our biology? what would planting our mind in a computer mean for humankind in general? Would that be a monster? Can computers be living things? Or would they be just monsters?
It’s about love for life in all its forms.
It’s funny and ironic too. So very very clever. The names of the characters, the personalities they’re given… there’s a lot of ‘play’ on the original obviously so I guess if you know Shelley’s book you’ll love this even more. I’ve had to do a bit of googling here and there to make sure I didn’t miss too many connections.
As a retelling of a classic… it’s brilliant.