Pride and Prometheus

What if Mary Bennett, Elizabeth Bennett’s younger sister from Pride and Prejudice, encountered Victor Frankenstein at a social event in London? What if, upon meeting Victor, the serious and studious Mary became quite taken with the withdrawn, troubled, and also quite brilliant, Frankenstein? What would happen? This is the question entertainingly explored by John Kessel in his new novel Pride and Prometheus.

Mary Bennett and her younger sister, Kitty, are both beginning to realize that their chances of finding a suitable husband are dwindling rapidly. While Mary prefers to spend time with her books and studies, their mother continues to insist that both young women keep availing themselves of every opportunity open to them to meet a suitor, and that means attending every party or ball to which they are invited while visiting London. On a particularly dark and stormy night, at yet another social gathering, Mary encounters a handsome young man named Victor Frankenstein. He is quiet but intelligent and seems interested in talking with Mary as an equal about her intellectual pursuits. Mary feels drawn to him, even though she senses there is something wrong that he isn’t telling her. What is this secret that he is hiding? Is it possible that, even with his secrets, Victor Frankenstein may be the man to save Mary from a future of spinsterhood?

In Pride and Prometheus, award-winning author John Kessel takes two well-known and loved stories and blends them expertly. The title, Pride and Prometheus, tells readers everything they need to know because the book is exactly what it appears to be: a continuation of the lives of the characters from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice into the time frame of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, allowing the characters to meet, interact and influence each other’s narratives. The story is split between three perspectives: those of Mary Bennett, Victor Frankenstein, and his creation. The characters from Pride and Prejudice will seem familiar to readers of Austen as they embark on this new adventure, while readers of Shelley’s Frankenstein will find new perspectives and explanations about events detailed in the original novel.

Readers of either or both of the original novels will find interesting twists and turns to familiar plots provided by Kessel’s crafty integration of the two stories. The result is incredibly entertaining, while also maintaining a thoughtful, introspective quality about the world and culture of 19th century Europe, and the issues raised in Shelley’s groundbreaking work. Pride and Prometheus is contemplative, compelling and delightful, and it is a must read for fans of Austen and Shelley.