cover image The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein

The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein

Theodore Roszak / Author Random House (NY) $22 (425p) ISBN 978

How ironic that a woman who wrote as a man should, after nearly 200 years, be given such ardent voice by a man writing as a woman. Roszak, author of the seminal nonfiction work The Making of a Counterculture and several previous novels including Flicker, risks much and achieves all in this richly imagined, frankly erotic homage to Mary Shelley, who modeled Victor Frankenstein's murdered--and scarcely heard from--bride on herself. Elizabeth has her full say here, and what a supremely gothic--and feminist--tale she tells: of her secret birth and her upbringing by a gypsy midwife; of her adoption by freethinking Lady Caroline Frankenstein; of her initiation into a wicca group and her preparation for a ``chymical marriage'' to her foster brother Victor; and of her solo wanderings in the Swiss Alps and her formation of a telepathic relationship with a hideous stranger named Adam, leading to madness and death. Roszak cleverly has Sir Richard Walton, the narrator of Frankenstein, present this work. His antiphonal ``editor's notes,'' with their condescending view of women and admiration for ``manly'' science, provide a solid historical framework and strategic links to Shelley's novel. Passionate and lyrical, rife with period details and underpinned by a thought-provoking subtext on gender relations and the nature of modern science, this spellbinder will send readers rushing to gobble up its precursor. Major ad/promo; Doubleday Book Club alternate; audio rights to Simon & Schuster. (Apr.)