Love and Fury by Samantha Silva examines the life of Mary Wollstonecraft, a groundbreaking feminist and mother of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley. Devoted to breaking free of the constraints that bound women of her time, Wollstonecraft was a passionate and unorthodox woman who carved her own path in life using her fierce intellect and gift for words. By her mid-thirties she had debated with famous writers like Thomas Paine, published her own groundbreaking work advocating for women’s rights, and lived in Paris at the height of the Reign of Terror. She also shocked her peers with her unconventional relationships and had one child out of wedlock before she gave birth to Mary Shelley. Love and Fury opens with the birth of this second daughter, and is narrated from two perspectives: that of Wollstonecraft herself, telling her newborn daughter about her life and struggles; and that of the midwife caring for Wollstonecraft as she dies of childbed fever.
Although Wollstonecraft isn’t as famous nowadays as her daughter, her life is just as fascinating and tragic to read about. Silva’s portrayal of Wollstonecraft doesn’t shy away from showing the darkest points in her life and how she was plagued by depression and suicidal thoughts; despite this, you can’t help but admire how strong Wollstonecraft was to keep living according to her own ideals, even when society tried to force her to do otherwise. The chapters narrated by Wollstonecraft’s midwife add emotional depth to the story and show the grim circumstances of her death. Love and Fury will have you raging against the injustices women have suffered throughout history, and reflecting not only on how far we’ve come since Wollstonecraft’s time, but also on how much farther we still have to go.
--Sara, Reference Librarian