Romantic Outlaws

The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley
Narrated by: Susan Lyons
Length: 22 hrs and 31 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (221 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Charlotte Gordon's new work is a fresh look at the lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley, who together comprise one of the most illustrious and inspiring mother-daughter pairs in history. Wollstonecraft published the first full articulation of women's rights in 1792, risking her reputation and sometimes her life in pursuit of her radical goals, while her daughter Mary Shelley wrote the masterpiece Frankenstein in 1819, and famously professed her love to the poet Percy Shelley on her mother's grave.

Although these two women never really knew each other, their lives were so closely intertwined and eerily similar that it seems impossible to consider one without the other: Both became writers; both fell in love with brilliant but impossible men, and were single mothers who had children out of wedlock; both struggled to negotiate their need for love and companionship with their need for independence. The narrative takes listeners from Revolutionary France to the Scottish Highlands, from Victorian England to the canals of Venice, flowing like an engrossing historical novel.

©2015 Charlotte Gordon (P)2015 Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

  • National Book Critics Circle Award Winner, Biography, 2015

What listeners say about Romantic Outlaws

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating dual biography and viewpoint on feminism...

Allows one to see how misogyny is interwoven so seamlessly into the fabric if society and culture, both then and thereby now. Also incredible to see how times and persons enjoy a higher degree of radicalism and dissent often engender a backlash that is far more conservative in the next generation. We e are not moving in a straight line and what is "forward" anyway?

10 people found this helpful

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Important and compelling

This book introduces great depth and dimension to the lives of Two pioneers for women’s rights and the quality of their lives. While thoroughly describing the lives of women in the 18th and 19th centuries through the stories of Mary Wolstonecraft and Mary Shelly, the author also traces and honors a mother’s legacy living in her daughter. What an eye opener and heart warmer. An essential read for those interested in early feminist literature

6 people found this helpful

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Beyond Expectations

Any additional comments?

I loved this book and I am mostly a fiction reader. It was a fascinating story and I learned so much about the period and was constantly grateful as a woman to be living right now. I have such admiration for the courage of both women and what they accomplished against great odds. Didn't want to stop listening to it.

5 people found this helpful

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thumbs up

A very engaging listen and a thorough look into the lives of both Marys. The narration is wonderful as well.

4 people found this helpful

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Two incredible women!

As a admirer of both women it was wonderful to learn more about the lives of these great and courageous women.

2 people found this helpful

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Awesome

I really enjoyed this book. I do plan on looking for more books on Mary Shelley and her mother. Great stories on women.

2 people found this helpful

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Tons of info, poor format choice.

What did you like best about Romantic Outlaws? What did you like least?

I knew little about Mary Shelley other than that she wrote Frankenstein and was married to the poet, Shelley. I knew nothing about her mother. I am happy to now be able to say the opposite. I learned a great deal about both from this book, and find them to have been remarkable and admirable women in most respects. See my next answer, which covers the aspect of this book that I liked the least.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

For some (dumb) reason, the biographies of this mother and daughter are arranged in alternating chapters in this book. The odd numbered chapters cover the life story of one, and the even numbered chapters cover the life of the other. Consequently, the reader is jerked back or forward through time at the start of every chapter. Yes, each chapter began with the woman's name and the years covered. But that attempt at clarification did not fend off all confusion, since both mother and daughter are inconveniently named Mary! Many times as I listened, I wondered how the Mary of the current chapter had suddenly become much older or younger than she had been a few moments earlier, or how the current Mary had suddenly wound up in a country that she had not intended to visit at that point in her life. Of course I figured out my mistakes immediately. But I got tired of having to make the effort. If I could reconstruct this book, I'd tell Mary Wollstonecraft's tale first, then begin that of her daughter, Mary Shelley.

Have you listened to any of Susan Lyons’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I don't recall listening to Susan Lyon before, but I certainly enjoyed her performance in this case--very well done.

Was Romantic Outlaws worth the listening time?

Yes, considering the information imparted, which I much appreciate. However, if I could go back in time, I'd skip every other chapter to first focus on Mary Wollstonecraft. Then I'd return to the beginning of Mary Shelley's story and listen to her life. I much prefer continuity to jarring mental hopscotch.

Any additional comments?

Aside from the unnatural "every other chapter being about one of two different women" technique, I was also sometimes annoyed by the excess of detail and redundancies. The author left nothing out of these two biographies. Every fact that could be gleaned from research seemed to have been included. Sometimes I felt like I was sharing every single moment of these women's lives. That level of TMI can be exhausting for a reader. At other times, my annoyance stemmed from the author's vigorous yet unfortunately repetitive defenses of these women's attitudes and life choices. I often thought, "I'm with you, I get it, they were wonderful. Let's move on." As with so many things in life, less can be more--in this case, more interesting, more attention-sustaining and more memorable, in a good way.

14 people found this helpful

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Reshuffle the Deck of Chapters Please

Any additional comments?

The history is valid, conformable and presented in a very confusing way. The author has a nutball idea that switching from the life of Mary Wollstoencraft,Godwin, and the life of her daughter Mary Godwin Shelley, is a useful literary tool. This works against the information and the story. If the chapters were reshuffled so that you could start with the life of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and then hear the life of Mary Godwin Shelley the book would be much clearer. Chapters for the men in key rolls in each Mary's life would improve this book to read and listen to also.If this book were properly organized I would buy it again. This confusing attempt at publishing a book with a creative twists really sad because the information is timely and valid for women today.

7 people found this helpful

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Lots of whining about bad relationships

There is so Much to these two Women. But I found the whining about bad relationships tiring and minimizing of the role of these women.

2 people found this helpful

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Fantastic!

This was beautifully written and performed. I recommend this to anybody that loves biographies, women's rights and British Literature.