"The attempted suicide of Mary Wollstonecraft opens this carefully researched, deeply imagined and gorgeously written novel about the Romantic poets, as seen by the women who loved them: Mary Wollstonecraft's daughter, Mary Shelley, who fell scandalously in love with then-married Percy Bysshe Shelley and wrote Frankenstein at age 19; the passionate but untethered Lady Caroline Lamb, who never got over her love for Lord Byron; charming Fanny Brawne, devoted to her consumptive fiancé, Keats; and Augusta Leigh, half-sister to Byron, notorious for her incestuous affair with him. Dense, empathetic, detailed portraits of each woman lift them above their iconography; even Byron, in all his famous charm, is convincingly rendered."
An account of the women sharing their lives with Lord Byron, Shelley and Keats. A very good description of the middle/upper class of that time with emphasis on the women, their social surroundings, morals and ethics of that time, politics and major events of the period. You get a look at the literary and social scene, the Prince Regent, Beau Brummel, Napoleon, Waterloo and so on and so forth.
Although its central theme is romantic relationships, I would not class this as a romantic novel, but rather a historic one. There is not a strong narrative thread. Which is probably the reason, why I started loosing interest about half way through. So, I enjoyed the first 300 pages very much, but thought that the book got a bit scattered after that. I did not like the chapters that were told by Caro Lamb much - mostly because I did not like her talking directly at me. I did not think that worked very well.
The storyline of Keats and Fanny Brawne felt like an afterthought and the book could have done without it. I liked Augusta and Mary Shelley best. They were the most vivid and interesting characters in the book. And Byron - I wouldn't mind having dinner with him, to see what all the fuss is about and if he was really this fascinating!
I expected their stay at lake Geneva - where Frankenstein was "born" - to be the pivotal point of the book and was a bit disappointed, how briefly it appeared.
It is a good story though and was worth reading.