Praise for Love and Fury:
A Best Novel of Summer (New York Times Book Review)
Finalist for the Chautauqua Prize
“Vivid…Exciting…Silva succeeds in making Wollstonecraft a vibrant and forceful personality, full of both love and fury…Silva gives us a Wollstonecraft who is not overshadowed by historical forces, but who is instead herself a force of nature — and history.”
“Magical…A love letter to life itself. Love and Fury is a beautifully written call to all of us to fill our own brief time with as much love, wisdom, suffering and, most important, beauty as possible.”
—Wall Street Journal
“A thought-provoking, beautifully written story of mothers and daughters.”
"A heartbreaking novel of compassion and grace, as well as an elegy to one of the world’s most influential thinkers."
“Beautifully human. Even readers typically uninterested in this time period will find themselves sucked into Silva’s lyrical prose. Highly recommended.”
—Historical Novel Society
“Gripping…Silva’s heartbreaking but inspiring work captures the despair and joy, convictions and contradictions of an extraordinary woman.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Wide-ranging, deep…Passionate…Related with superb detail…Silva's portrait of the revolutionary Wollstonecraft generates an absorbing tale of courage, sorrow, and the dance between independence and intimacy that delivers a sense of triumphant catharsis.”
“Love and Fury sparks with a thrilling jolt of electricity, reanimating the epic legacy of Mary Wollstonecraft, mother of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, and a valiant feminist icon in her own right. Samantha Silva’s sensory prose is smartly crafted in a dual storyline delivered both as a daring midwife’s moving account of loss, and as a dying mother’s appeal to her newborn daughter to live. Together, the two weave a spun-gold tale both sweeping and intimate. Through this prism of history, Love and Fury shines with essential truths about love, womanhood, and the timeless struggle to define one’s self.”
—Afia Atakora, author of Conjure Women
“Astonishing and groundbreaking. Silva’s Wollstonecraft is one of the most complex, kind and endearing characters in recent historical fiction, simultaneously strong and heartbreakingly vulnerable. A provocative, inspiring and timely novel, Love and Fury chronicles not only a great historical figure but, just as movingly, a woman, wife and mother who learns to find love and home within herself.”
—Natalie Jenner, author of The Jane Austen Society
“Love and Fury is a beautifully imagined novel that brings Mary Wollstonecraft to life, even as it tells the story of her tragic death. In Silva's hands, we get to meet the true Wollstonecraft in all of her splendor. An inspirational book for all readers. Silva's Wollstonecraft is wise, warm, and brilliant. A tour de force.”
—Charlotte Gordon, author of Romantic Outlaws
“Intensely moving. Wollstonecraft's intellectual achievements are colossal in their own right, but for me they cannot be unstitched from the extraordinary and transgressive experiments of her life. These experiments are the stuff of Silva's book, and her writing is as fearless as its subject. Love and Fury is like watching newly-colorized archive film burst into life—I knew the story, but I never knew the story like this.”
—Bee Rowlatt, author of In Search of Mary
“Here is a novel set on the border between living and dying, with a heroine so powerful she conquers all territories, including this one—and she conquered me, too. Love and Fury thrums with beauty, pain, sorrow, wonder, tragedy, triumph, and life. What an extraordinary and transformative book this is.”
—Clare Beams, author of The Illness Lesson
"A gorgeous novel. Silva has given homage and light to Mary Wollstonecraft, feminist icon and mother of Mary Shelley, but so much more, creating a complex and loving novel all her own. This illuminating story harnesses the power women have—even in the midst of loss—to change the world, one woman's story at a time. An urgent masterpiece. Or should I say, Mistress-piece?"
—TaraShea Nesbit, author of Beheld
Silva’s gripping, meticulous novel (after Mr. Dickens and His Carol) opens as midwife Parthenia Blenkinsop arrives in North London to help Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin deliver her second child. Though the future Mary Shelley arrives safely, a male doctor’s treatment for placental complications gives Wollstonecraft an agonizing, life-threatening infection. Blenkinsop, who stays with the Godwins during the crisis, suggests she distract herself by telling the baby her life story. Wollstonecraft’s narrative is one of a childhood shaped by a violent, improvident father and unloving mother. Her intense, volatile emotions and unconventionally defiant ideas about misogyny and the patriarchy find few outlets until, at 16, she meets botanical illustrator Frances Blood, with whom she forms a passionate friendship. She is devastated when Blood dies of consumption 10 years later, but her grief bears fruit in her writing, which brings her influence, freedom, and friendship with some of Europe’s leading intellects. Her romances—with married artist Henry Fuseli and scoundrel Gilbert Imlay, with whom she bears an illegitimate daughter—are disastrous before she finds a true partner in Godwin. Short chapters written from pragmatic Blenkinsop’s perspective balance Wollstonecraft’s turbulent story and evoke the class differences as well as the commonalities between the era’s women. Silva’s heartbreaking but inspiring work captures the despair and joy, convictions and contradictions of an extraordinary woman. (May)
A fictionalized biography of Mary Wollstonecraft, the pioneering 18th-century feminist and radical thinker who was the mother of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley.
Wollstonecraft died at 38, days after having given birth to Mary, her second daughter, and Silva frames the novel as the dying woman's recounting of her life story to her infant. Her reprobate father made her childhood a misery, she remembers, but, already rebellious and brilliant, she had a knack for drawing others to her. John Arden, father of her friend Jane, recognized Wollstonecraft’s intelligence and tutored her until Jane began to find Wollstonecraft too unconventional (and needy) to continue their friendship—also a pattern in Wollstonecraft’s life despite her intellectual emphasis on independence and feminine self-reliance in her writings. At 18, Wollstonecraft began a romantic friendship with tubercular artist Fanny Blood, but Fanny married for financial security and died in childbirth. After a brief career as a governess in Ireland, Wollstonecraft began a writing career in London supported by flamboyant publisher Joseph Johnson, who introduced her to the likes of William Blake, Thomas Paine, and her future husband, radical philosopher William Godwin, whom she initially disliked. Instead, she fell madly if semiplatonically in love with married painter Henry Fuseli, until he dumped her at his wife’s insistence. In Paris to observe the French Revolution, she began a passionate affair with American adventurer Gilbert Imlay, a cad not unlike her father. He fathered her first daughter, Fanny, then broke her heart. Finally Wollstonecraft and Godwin reconnected as soul mates. While Silva works hard to fit in all the details of Wollstonecraft’s life with accuracy, the most moving moments belong to her fictitious midwife, kindly Mrs. Blenkinsop. Her intermittent narration of Wollstonecraft’s last weeks is meant to provide a workingwoman’s adoring view of Wollstonecraft and her domestic life with Godwin but also reveals the midwife’s private grief and spiritual growth.
Silva’s strong visual language enhances an otherwise matter-of-fact retelling of Wollstonecraft’s brief, eventful life.