A Storm In The Stars

In London, early in the nineteenth century, five-year-old Mary Godwin, daughter of philosopher William Godwin, plays with her sister Fanny, mourns her deceased mother, and marvels as a hot air balloon lands not far from the Thames. Nearby, in Sussex, eleven-year-old Percy Shelley entertains his three sisters by telling them stories and performing tricks with chemicals and fire.

A few years later Mary and Percy meet and fall in love in the Godwin bookshop near Black Friar’s Bridge. At first their romance seems doomed—Percy is a well-known atheist and already has a wife, and Mary is only seventeen and under the care of her father and his overbearing second wife. But they consider such impediments trivial and are soon on their way to Ireland, to Switzerland, and across Europe (with Mary’s flighty half-sister Claire in tow).

Upon reaching Lake Geneva they find lodgings near where the notorious poet Lord Byron and his peculiar personal physician John Polidori are staying—the same Lord Byron Claire seduced back in London, her reasoning being that if Mary can have a poet, why can’t she? And so begins the summer when Mary Shelley will begin writing her novel about a man who brings to life a creature of his own making, Percy and Lord Byron will debate politics and poetry in the midst of lightning storms, Polidori will begin writing his novel about a man with a taste for human blood, and snow will fall in the middle of July.

Praise & Reviews

“With A Storm in the Stars, Don Zancanella brings the high stakes lives of the Shelley couple to turbulent life. This is a moving account of the making of a writer – of two writers – and the high-achieving early nineteenth century community of which they were a part.”
—Fiona Sampson, author of In Search of Mary Shelley

“Don Zancanella breathes fresh life into the radical enchantment of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and Percy Shelley—one of the great love stories of all time.”
—Samantha Silva, author of Love and Fury: A Novel of Mary Wollstonecraft

“A panoramic sweep through the lives and viewpoints of the Shelley circle, this compassionate novel is beautifully told.”
—Alix Hawley, author of All True Not a Lie In it