Book Review: Her Lost Words by Stephanie Marie Thornton

Posted March 30, 2023 by WendyW in Book Review, bookblogger / 20 Comments

Her Lost Words
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

by Stephanie Marie Thornton
Publication Date March 28, 2023
Published by Penguin
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Genres: Fiction / Biographical, Fiction / Historical / General, Fiction / Women
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2023

***I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***

From A Vindication of the Rights of Woman to Frankenstein, a tale of two literary legends—a mother and daughter—discovering each other and finding themselves along the way, from USA Today bestselling author Stephanie Marie Thornton.
1792. As a child, Mary Wollstonecraft longed to disappear during her father’s violent rages. Instead, she transforms herself into the radical author of the landmark volume A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, in which she dares to propose that women are equal to men. From conservative England to the blood-drenched streets of revolutionary France, Mary refuses to bow to society’s conventions and instead supports herself with her pen until an illicit love affair challenges her every belief about romance and marriage. When she gives birth to a daughter and is stricken with childbed fever, Mary fears it will be her many critics who recount her life’s extraordinary odyssey…
1818. The daughter of infamous political philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft, passionate Mary Shelley learned to read by tracing the letters of her mother’s tombstone. As a young woman, she desperately misses her mother’s guidance, especially following her scandalous elopement with dashing poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Mary struggles to balance an ever-complicated marriage with motherhood while nursing twin hopes that she might write something of her own one day and also discover the truth of her mother’s unconventional life. Mary’s journey will unlock her mother’s secrets, all while leading to her own destiny as the groundbreaking author of Frankenstein.
A riveting and inspiring novel about a firebrand feminist, her visionary daughter, and the many ways their words transformed our world.

Her Lost Words by Stephanie Marie Thornton is a dual timeline historical fiction based on the real lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley.  Both were passionate women of their time and Mary Shelley eventually wrote the groundbreaking novel, Frankenstein.  

Story Recap:

Mary Wollstonecraft was a revolutionary woman and did not live a conventional life, especially during the end of the 17th century, when women were not allowed many rights at all.  She wrote “A Vindication of the Rights of Women” which made Mary one of the first feminists of the modern era.   She supported herself with her revolutionary writing until she had an affair that changed her mind about love, romance, and marriage and gave her a daughter. 

Marry Shelley, the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, misses her mother’s guidance as she grows up.  She learns to read and write by tracing the letters on her mother’s tombstone.  She marries the famous poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley and struggles with marriage and motherhood.  She learns more about her unconventional mother and turns to write stories and becomes the author of Frankenstein. 

My Thoughts: 

I didn’t know much at all about Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley before reading this book, and I’m so glad to know about them now.  They are both passionate women who didn’t bow down to societal expectations.  

The book is beautifully written and it pulled me right in.  I loved both stories equally and loved both Marys.  I love a story about women who fight the system and each of these women did that and succeeded in their own way. 


I highly recommend Her Lost Words to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

About Stephanie Marie Thornton

Stephanie Marie Thornton is a writer, librarian, and history teacher who has been obsessed with women from history since she was twelve. She is the USA Today bestselling author of Her Lost Words, And They Called It Camelot, and American Princess. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska where she enjoys running, baking, and beekeeping.

Book Challenges:

Reading Her Lost Words counts towards my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2023

Have you read Her Lost Words?

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2023

20 responses to “Book Review: Her Lost Words by Stephanie Marie Thornton

  1. I’ve read a nonfiction book about these two women and while I enjoyed it the writing wasn’t my favorite. This sounds fantastic and the perfect subject for a historical fiction book.

  2. What a cool story! I know a bit about the two Mary’s. Enough that this story definitely fascinates me. Excellent review!

  3. I don’t always love dual timeline novels, but the fact that this one is between Mary Shelley and her mother totally intrigues me. 😀

  4. This one’s definitely going on my list. I know more about Mary Shelley (one novel and one graphic novel) than Mary Wollstonecraft, but I’d love to read more about them. Great review Wendy. Thanks for highlighting this one.

  5. I imagine this had to be so interesting! I don’t really know anything about Mary Shelley, but just reading what I did in the blurb has me curious about her. Glad you enjoyed it.

  6. Fascinating! I think I would love reading this novel as well as the original works of both women. I knew nothing of their histories.

  7. Joanna @ TheGeekishBrunette

    This sounds really good! I don’t know much about Mary Shelley or her family but she definitely has gone down in history as a great woman.

  8. kamifurr

    Gorgeous cover! I didn’t know Mary Shelley’s mom was also named Mary, or is that made up?