Her Lost Words: A Novel of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley (Paperback)
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From A Vindication of the Rights of Woman to Frankenstein, a tale of two literary legends—a mother and daughter—discovering each other and finding themselves along the way, from USA Today bestselling author Stephanie Marie Thornton.
1792. As a child, Mary Wollstonecraft longed to disappear during her father’s violent rages. Instead, she transforms herself into the radical author of the landmark volume A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, in which she dares to propose that women are equal to men. From conservative England to the blood-drenched streets of revolutionary France, Mary refuses to bow to society’s conventions and instead supports herself with her pen until an illicit love affair challenges her every belief about romance and marriage. When she gives birth to a daughter and is stricken with childbed fever, Mary fears it will be her many critics who recount her life’s extraordinary odyssey…
1818. The daughter of infamous political philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft, passionate Mary Shelley learned to read by tracing the letters of her mother’s tombstone. As a young woman, she desperately misses her mother’s guidance, especially following her scandalous elopement with dashing poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Mary struggles to balance an ever-complicated marriage with motherhood while nursing twin hopes that she might write something of her own one day and also discover the truth of her mother’s unconventional life. Mary’s journey will unlock her mother’s secrets, all while leading to her own destiny as the groundbreaking author of Frankenstein.
A riveting and inspiring novel about a firebrand feminist, her visionary daughter, and the many ways their words transformed our world.
About the Author
Stephanie Marie Thornton is a high school history teacher and lives in Alaska with her husband and daughter.
“A stunning homage to two legendary women writers—Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley—Her Lost Words is a poignant and page-turning work of historical fiction. Stephanie Marie Thornton’s ability to bring historical women to life for the reader is unparalleled as she chronicles their passions, struggles, and legacy with impeccable research and emotional resonance. An extraordinary read!"
—Chanel Cleeton, New York Times bestselling author of Our Last Days in Barcelona
"A beautifully crafted, spellbinding, heartbreaking tale of a mother and daughter whose paths tragically cross for only a handful of days—but who share the same passion, creativity, and thirst for understanding the depths of the human heart. This novel is a masterpiece I won’t forget, an ode to motherhood, to love, and to two brilliant women who changed the world with their words. One of the best historical fiction books of the year, and one that I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come."
—Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Forest of Vanishing Stars
"Stephanie Thornton delivers a stunning historical fiction with lyrical prose and vivid description that reveals the lives of Mary Shelley and her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft - both women of talent and intellect who seek equal rights in a world dominated by men. Set amid a cast of literary names we all recognize and love, Her Lost Words, is sure to be a reader favorite."
—Madeline Martin, New York Times bestselling author of The Librarian Spy
"I could not turn these pages fast enough! The dual tales of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley are brilliantly interwoven by Thornton, whose prose sparkles with wit and wisdom about literature, romance, and family. The Marys are heroines for their time and ours, remarkable women with independent hearts and minds, true inspirations to anyone who dreams of making the world a better place."
—Kerri Maher, national bestselling author of The Paris Bookseller
“As passionate and fiercely intelligent as its protagonists, Her Lost Words is a fitting tribute to two women whose literary achievements reshaped the world….Brilliant.”
“Thornton deftly maneuvers through her subjects’ lives in alternating chapters, highlighting the ways both women defy expectations regarding marriage, motherhood, and women’s roles in society. Readers who enjoy sweeping, emotional biographical fiction about iconoclastic women will be hooked.”
"Stephanie Thornton once again delivers a compelling story of two women ahead of their time, bound by their words and their blood. Though Mary Shelley lost her mother Mary Wollstonecraft at birth, she had her feminist writings to sustain and shape her. One would be hard pressed to find two stronger or more significant female writers and both are brought back to life with elegant prose and wisdom under Thornton’s skillful hand, making her one of my favorite historical novelists.”
—Renée Rosen, USA Today bestselling author of The Social Graces
“Immersive, elegant, engaging--readers will savor the details of this fascinating account of the making of two brave, brilliant women--mother and daughter--who defy the odds as authors and early feminists."
—Heather Webb, USA Today bestselling author of Strangers in the Night
"What a vibrant, immersive portrait of two brilliant women! Both highlights as well as humanizes the Marys' extraordinary achievements. A timely inspiration."
—Evie Dunmore, USA Today bestselling author of Portrait of a Scotsman
“A novel that explores the relationship between mothers and daughters and the human condition, Thornton grips our hearts with prose on love and loss, grief and survival, and the power of art and expression to heal our very souls. An extremely moving and enlightening novel that is an absolute must read!”
—Eliza Knight, USA Today bestselling author of The Mayfair Bookshop
“Thornton brings a sense of urgency to the women’s inner lives, as well as a fair amount of insight into their work. Much has been written about the authors, but Thornton does justice to their singular lives.”
“Thornton writes lyrically about the two Marys, and readers will sympathize, deeply, with their struggles to find their own paths.”
“While Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley each stand alone for their contributions to feminism and fiction respectively, there’s something about their being mother and daughter that makes each woman’s story just that little bit more captivating. Add the fact that Wollstonecraft died eleven days after giving birth to her daughter, and you have a story crying out for a novelist to take it on. In Her Lost Words, Thornton does so with aplomb.”
—Historical Novels Review
"An extraordinary work of historical fiction, weaving together the journeys of two brilliant thinkers and writers who lived and wrote with a daring that was centuries ahead of their time.... Thornton never disappoints, with that perfect blend of fine scholarship and creative flair that brings her characters, their work, their loves, and their losses vividly to life."
—Christine Wells, author of Sisters of the Resistance
“A powerful and sympathetic account of two extraordinary women who fought to influence how 18th century politics and society regarded the roles of women. Stephanie Thornton doesn’t merely breathe life into Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley, she brings them blazing onto the page with all their ideals, flaws, and passions. No matter where the chapters are set – in England, Italy, or the terrors of the French Revolution -- this masterful narrative is hard to put down.”
—Janie Chang, bestselling author of Dragon Springs Road and The Library of Legends
"Her Lost Words is a fun and informative read, grabbing at your heart and mind at once and giving greater worth to the idea that someday we all could find a way to support and celebrate each other in whatever partnership we wish to have.”
"A stunning novel about two towering real-life heroines, mother and daughter. Thornton brings Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley to vibrant life as women of searing intelligence and creative power, who make mistakes, take terrible risks, defy society and love immoderately. I feared for them, cried for them, admired them, and will be haunted by them. Thornton's research is meticulous, and her writing is a delight. I loved it and recommend it most highly."
—Maggie Brookes, author of Acts of Love and War
Praise for the novels of Stephanie Marie Thornton
“Thornton is a rare talent who always pairs fast-pace writing with excellent research, and A Most Clever Girl is a fascinating true Cold War story by a gifted storyteller.”
—Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of The Women of Chateau Lafayette
“Take a firecracker of a plot and add to it the true story of a female double agent and the result is one explosive and unforgettable story. Elizabeth Bentley is a complicated and absorbing woman and her life as a spy for both the Russians and the Americans makes for a fascinating tale, told with immense skill by Stephanie Marie Thornton.”
—Natasha Lester, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Seamstress
“Twisty and well plotted, A Most Clever Girl…unravels the threads of love, espionage and complicated friendships in postwar New York.”
“And They Called It Camelot is the book club pick of the year. Stephanie Marie Thornton brings an American icon to life: Jackie the debutante, the First Lady, the survivor who at last becomes the heroine of her own story.”
—Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Huntress
"Stephanie Thornton has compellingly and sympathetically humanized an American icon. Well researched and beautifully written, And They Called It Camelot is compulsively readable historical fiction!"
—Laura Kamoie, New York Times bestselling co-author of My Dear Hamilton
"In her rich, fascinating account of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis’ life, author Stephanie Marie Thornton effortlessly transports us back in time….A powerful and uplifting portrayal.”
“As juicy and enlightening as a page in Meghan Markle's diary.”