Synopses & Reviews
Theirs was a world of obsession, genius, and above all…
In the turbulent years of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, three poets—Byron, Shelley, and Keats—come to prominence, famous and infamous, for their vivid personalities, and their glamorous, shocking, and sometimes tragic lives. In this electrifying novel, those lives are explored through the eyes of the women who knew and loved them—intensely, scandalously.
Four women from widely different backgrounds are linked by a sensational fate. Mary Shelley: the gifted daughter of gifted parents, for whom passion leads to exile, loss, and a unique fame. Lady Caroline Lamb: born to fabulous wealth and aristocratic position, who risks everything for the ultimate love affair. Fanny Brawne: her quiet, middle-class girlhood is transformed—and immortalized—by a disturbing encounter with genius. Augusta Leigh: the unassuming poor relation who finds herself flouting the greatest of all taboos.
With the originality, richness, and daring of the poets themselves, Passion presents the Romantic generation in a new and unforgettable light.
In the turbulent years of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, poets Byron, Shelley, and Keats come to prominence. In this electrifying novel, those lives are explored through the eyes of the women who knew and loved them.
About the Author
JUDE MORGAN, who lives in England, studied creative writing with Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter.
Reading Group Guide
Reading Group Questions
1. Passion is called "A Novel of the Romantic Poets." Do you regard Passion as the life stories of Mary Shelley, Lady Caroline Lamb, and Augusta Leigh--the wives and lovers of the poets--or the stories of the poets themselves, as seen through the eyes of the women?
2. The word "passion" can connote sexual desire; ardent affection or love; an intense, driving feeling or conviction; or suffering. What does "passion" mean for the characters in this novel?
3. In what ways are these women's lives enriched and/or undermined by their involvement with the Romantic Poets?
4. The book opens with the attempted suicide of Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley's mother and author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. How does this scene influence your interpretation of Mary Shelley's life? Why does the book begin here?
5. In some ways Augusta seems to start out as the most docile and least rebellious of the women in this book. How does she come to step so far outside the usual bounds of society? As for Byron, do you believe he was madly in love with Augusta, or did she merely represent another taboo he wished to break?
6. Lady Caroline Lamb famously described Byron as "mad, bad, and dangerous to know." Is he wholly responsible for her downfall, or could she have taken a different path?
7. Do you fault Mary for remaining loyal to Shelley when she knew that he would never remain celibate or loyal to her? How did their relationship influence her own work?
8. In what ways are Keats's illness and his love for Fanny the same? The illness is described as "a demanding presence, and this one was doubly demanding because of the love." Did Keats's love for Fanny speed his death?
9. When Fanny imagines visiting Keats's grave, she cannot bring herself to look at the tombstone's inscription. Keats's tombstone in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome reads, "Here lies one whose name was writ in water." What does this inscription mean to Fanny?
10. If this book were narrated by the poets, how would the women be represented differently? Do the poets see them as muses? Distractions? Rivals? How did they view the women's own work and concerns?