Frankissstein: A Love Story by Jeanette Winterson [in Library Journal]
Lake Geneva in 1816 is home (in two rented properties) to five English travelers, three made eternal through their writing, one among that trio renowned for creating (inhuman) life, literally. Mary Shelley conceived Frankenstein there, accompanied by her poet husband Percy Shelley, fellow poet Lord Byron, his mistress-of-the-moment Claire Clairmont (who was also Mary’s stepsister), and Byron’s personal physician (and voyeuristic sorta-spy) John Polidori.
With crisp, exacting enunciation, Perdita Weeks resoundingly enlivens the peripatetic 19th-century brood. Fast forward 200 years, and John Sackville embodies a new cast – but are they? – who initially converge at Tech-X-Po in Memphis, including transgender British doctor Ry Shelley (named Mary at birth); his lover/collaborator-to-be and AI expert Victor Stein; sexbot entrepreneur Ron Lord; local self-inventor Claire; and Vanity Fair‘s Polly D hunting the next great story. Sackville’s impressive range doesn’t quite include convincing southern American twang, but the rest of this repertoire is so admirably distinctive listeners may wonder if an uncredited third reader occasionally commandeered the recording.
Verdict: Brilliantly exploring the many-layered possibilities – and growing probabilities – for the creation, consumption, definition, and destruction of life, Jeanette Winterson’s inventive latest gets memorably animated via two can’t-be-ignored, seasoned narrators.