Book Reviews

Review: Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel

I have been obsessed with Frankenstein for years now. There’s something about Victor and the Creature that transfixes me. I used that fixation to write multiple papers about this relationship we have with our creator. So when I found out about Pride and Prometheus to say I was excited was a vast understatement. This book is the embodiment of my college years in one book!

Summary

Threatened with destruction unless he fashions a wife for his Creature, Victor Frankenstein travels to England where he meets Mary and Kitty Bennet, the remaining unmarried sisters of the Bennet family from Pride and Prejudice. As Mary and Victor become increasingly attracted to each other, the Creature looks on impatiently, waiting for his bride. But where will Victor find a female body from which to create the monster’s mate?

Meanwhile, the awkward Mary hopes that Victor will save her from approaching spinsterhood while wondering what dark secret he is keeping from her.

Review

book review Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel(Disclaimer: I received this free book from the publisher, Saga. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

I first read Frankenstein and Pride and Prejudice in university. I fell in love with the Creature. His plight was endearing and I think in many ways I found myself reflected in his scars. Around the same time I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time (after binge watching all ‘The Lizzy Bennett Diaries’). Pride and Prometheus is the book for me for a variety of reasons:

  • I have always been fascinated with these two stories in different ways. Frankenstein was the first time I ever read about a ‘cyborg’. It’s not strictly one in the sense I cultivated, but it began that idea. This hyrbidization, this boundary crossing figure inspired all of my theses and I was happy to be able to go back to this image in my last foray into academia. (I did write a whole paper on the differences between being ‘created’ by a mother or a father figure as well).
  • I always felt bad for Mary from Pride and Prejudice. I wanted her to have more of a role and more details. Not to mention I was probably always more similar to Mary.
  • Retellings might be my favorite genre. I am obsessed with the intricacies of interacting with previous texts and transforming them. My least favorite retellings are ones which don’t a) transcend the original and b) comment on the themes/popularity of the originals. But Pride and Prometheus succeeds in both of these aspects.
  • The plot was wonderful, not only because it was a retelling, but it retained the original backbones of the stories, while bringing a pretty strong grasp of what ways it would deviate. It was faithful and yet it took its time in those details and pockets of time.
  • Kessel brings a more explicitly feminist lens to this book by including discussions of agency, responsibility, and interacts with the Creature in a more substantial way.
  • Can you tell I loved it?I am so happy with this book and the ways it gives Mary and the creature more time that they deserve.

Suffice it to say, go pick yourself up a copy of Pride and Prometheus if you enjoyed their originals as much as I did, and even if you didn’t, this brings something truly new.

You can find this book on Amazon(US), your local indie, and add it to Goodreads.

Discussion

What is your favorite classic?

If you love retellings and are going to the bookstore, also pick up Creatures of Will and Temper.


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4 thoughts on “Review: Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel

  1. Thank you for your very kind review. It sounds like you enjoy many of the same things that I do.

    If you are interested, as you say, in utopian/dystopian fiction, women’s studies, and speculative fiction, you might want to check out my novel from last year, “The Moon and the Other.” It’s quite different from “Pride and Prometheus” but it does swim in some similar waters.

    I’m very glad you enjoyed the novel. Best wishes.

  2. My favorite classic is “Lord of the Flies,” though I understand that it isn’t quite as old as Frankenstein or Austen’s work. If I had to go with an older classic, then I think I’d choose Great Expectations.
    This sounds like an excellent book. I really appreciate that it’s a blending of two different classic works–very cool. I think I’d perhaps better read Frankenstein and Pride and Prejudice before picking this one up, if I’m to fully appreciate its brilliance. 🙂

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