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REVIEW: Shelley and the Unknown Lady

Updated: Jan 12, 2022

About Shelley and the Unknown Lady: Percy Bysshe Shelley’s brief and turbulent life was as passionate as his poetry. Romantic, idealistic and impulsive, Shelley had several intense love affairs. When Shelley drowned at sea in 1822, he took his secrets with him. Did a beautiful, lovelorn lady really follow him throughout Europe, as he claimed? Did Mary Shelley ever learn about this rival for her affections? Shelley and the Unknown Lady is a carefully researched imagining of the true-life tragedy behind the mystery.

Review by Christina Boyd

Masterful storyteller Lona Manning has extensively researched Percy Shelley’s life and Jane Austen’s “Mansfield Park”, blending what we know as fact with the mysterious lore inspired by the gaps unknown to the public and blurring historical lines to tell this remarkable what if.

Manning successfully creates a world where “Mansfield Park”’s anti-heroine Mary Crawford is the mysterious woman who loved and followed Shelley through Italy. I read this novella in almost one sitting, connecting the dots between the fictionalization romance and documented truth. "...but for my part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short."(Jane Austen) I can only echo that “Shelley and the Unknown Lady” is indeed entirely too short!

Bonus: The notes after the end of the story were delightful references.



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