Beset by jealousy over an admirer of his wife’s, Lord Lodore has come with his daughter Ethel to the American wilderness; his wife Cornelia, meanwhile, has remained with her controlling mother in England. When he finally brings himself to attempt a return, Lodore is killed en route in a duel. Ethel does return to England, and the rest of the book tells the story of her marriage to the troubled and impoverished Villiers (whom she stands by through a variety of tribulations) and her long journey to a reconciliation with her mother.
Lodore’s scope of character and of idea is matched by its narrative range and variety of setting; the novel’s highly dramatic story-line moves at different points to Italy, to Illinois, and to Niagara Falls. And in this edition, which includes a wealth of documents from the period, the reader is provided with a sense of the full context out of which Shelley’s achievement emerged.
“Not the one book author that Frankenstein sometimes make her seem, Mary Shelley was a complex and committed social thinker whose novels reveal her deep concern with the impact of the emerging Victorian social dynamic upon the lives of women. While Lodore reflects Shelley’s conviction of the importance to the new bourgeois family model of the ‘genuine affections of the human heart,’ it shows us too, in the person of the remarkable Fanny Derham, the consequences for a free-thinking and independent woman who has learned ‘to be afraid of nothing.’ Vargo’s splendid edition resituates Shelley within the 1830s milieu of successful literary women like Landon and Hemans who understood their readers and their marked, and within a culture that was moving rapidly away from the exuberant Romanticism of only two decades earlier. With its illuminating critical introduction, and its extensive contextualizing appendices, this exceptional edition will alert readers anew to the complexity and sophistication of Shelley’s mind and art.” — Stephen C. Behrendt, University of Nebraska
“This volume marks yet another excellent addition to Broadview’s expanding list of literary writings that have long been out of print.” — Nineteenth-Century Literature
“Vargo has provided a much-needed, comprehensive edition of the text.” — University of Toronto Quarterly