“Vigee likes your review”

“Vigee likes your review”


This morning, I was thinking that it’s a long while since I wrote a blog, and also thinking about this coming weekend when I’ll be attending the St Hilda’s Crime & Mystery event in Oxford. I then opened my emails. Goodreads told me that Vigee liked my review (2011) of Frances Sherwood’s novel Vindication. The review was prompted by one of those anxiety dreams. In the dream I’m at an Oxford college. The connections prompted me to share that review:

Frances’s Goodreads review of Frances Sherwood’s Vindication 

It’s eighteen years since I read this book, I dreamed of it last night! In this anxiety dream, I was at an Oxford college, to listen to other people, and was asked to step in at short notice and give a lecture on Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and, as the cover blurb of Frances Sherwood’s novel has it, ‘the mother of the future Mary Shelley.’

In my dream, I could either search out the college manager, Titan Zoldi, [there’s a dream name to conjure with] who would point me in the right direction for a bit of quick research, or I could go home for my notes, and be paid expenses of 24 pence per mile. [Since I travel to Oxford by train I’m not sure where the car would have come from.]

I did neither, but began to talk about this book, and to say how faithful it was to Mary Wollstonecraft’s life, and that you could have a pencil in hand and note all the major incidents. (Probably I would have said more, such as it being a pleasure to read and full of telling details, but the cat woke me, asking to go out).

The book has five sections, each centring on a person important in Wollstonecraft’s life: Fanny, childhood friend; Joseph Johnson, mentor and publisher; Henry Fuseli, artist, painter of nightmares, and love object; Gilbert Imlay, faithless lover and father of Mary’s daughter, Fanny – who inherited her mother’s stays, marked with the intials MW, and who, tragically, later committed suicide; and, lastly, William – William Godwin, Mary’s husband.

What else can you do about a book that comes to you in a dream, except highly recommend it.

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