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Frankissstein: A Love Story (paperback)


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‘Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful.’
Inspired by Mary Shelley’s gothic classic Frankenstein, discover this audacious new novel about the bodies we live in and the bodies we desire.
In Brexit Britain, a young transgender doctor called Ry is falling in love – against their better judgement – with Victor Stein, a celebrated professor leading the public debate around AI.

Meanwhile, Ron Lord, just divorced and living with Mum again, is set to make his fortune launching a new generation of sex dolls for lonely men everywhere.

Across the Atlantic, in Phoenix, Arizona, a cryogenics facility houses dozens of bodies of men and women who are medically and legally dead… but waiting to return to life.

With a bold contemporary take on the same dilemmas that concerned Shelley, Winterson explores what it means to be human in a funny and furious love story about life itself.

Author: Jeanette Winterson

Paperback  Published 21 January 2020  352 pages

Recommended by Graeme:

"Jeanette Winterson is in top form with this new novel which uses the unifying device of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (which celebrated its bicentenary in 2018) to explore contemporary issues of artificial intelligence and remaking the human body. There are two main narrative strands: the first focuses on Mary, her husband Shelley, Lord Byron, and their circle and how Frankenstein came to be written. These chapters are very atmospheric and captivating but also moving in exploring the limitations society imposes on women and the struggles Mary endures, especially later in life. This section comes to a remarkable climax when Mary meets with the daughter of Byron and her step-sister Claire. Taken from her mother and deposited  at a convent to die, Ada Lovelace has lived and risen to fame as a mathematician. Astonishingly, she has even devised an early computer. This is complemented by a contemporary storyline which reflects these characters - Doctor Ry Shelley is a trans man, previously known as Mary, who becomes entangled with Victor Stein, a charismatic professor and leader in AI who has some ambitious and unsettling ideas for the future. However, this contemporary section is hijacked by the character Ron Lord (Byron) whenever he appears. Ron is a businessman, who’s possesses a blunt way with words, and a thriving Sex Bot business. He produces an array of female models from ‘a no frills, budget fuck’ through to the Deluxe featuring real hair (on her head!) and a vocabulary of 200 words. Ron has steered clear of male models as the male thrust is too complex to engineer, although he later realises that there is potential for passive male sexbots aimed at the clergy. This direction is inspired when he teams up with Claire, an evangelical Christian, who persuades him into producing ‘the Christian Companion’ a more demure model in wardrobe and breast size who ‘the missionary, the widower, the boy tempted by the flesh’, could fuck. Frankisstein is fascinating and brimming with ideas, yet it also Winterson’s funniest book in decades. Her celebrated debut Oranges are Not the Only Fruit demonstrated a wicked wit at the expense of Christianity and we see this exercised again here."

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