The Monster’s Wife, by Kate Horsley … It struck me early on that Ms. Horsley’s novel is the third work of fiction by a British female author I’ve read and reviewed since July 19 (Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson and Obedience, by Jacqueline Yallop). What can I say, except it’s been a very good summer? The Monster’s Wife is yet another gem, so brava Ms. Horsley!
Oona is a sick girl destined to an early demise (a heart defect). Although she’s physically weak, Oona is no slouch. She’s tough and determined. Her best friend, May, also tough, has lived a more active life. May has also done things for Oona the latter can’t appreciate until it’s too late. They live on one of the tiny Orkney Islands (Quoy), where some strange and macabre things have begun to happen involving fish, frogs, hens and a female hand, all of which coincide with the recent arrival on the island of one Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Or could it be collateral refuse from the Napoleonic wars (he wants to rule the seas, after all)?
In the meantime, May has been working for the good (or is he?) doctor; cleaning up, cooking, etc., for extra coin for her upcoming wedding to a possessive fisherman (Stuart) … and when Oona grows tired of her friend’s absence from the ritual hangout times together at the Smokehouse, Oona visits May at the big house (where Dr. Frankenstein has taken residence).
Oona helps her friend dump some crates belonging to the doctor out on the sea, during which Oona can’t help but remember her Granny’s frightening tale about what can happen to young women on the water … a twist on the mythical tale of a Selkie (half seal/half woman), Granny says a Finnman may catch her and turn Oona into a Selkie if she’s not careful. After some more dead stuff floats up on the beach (mostly likely from the crates May and Oona dumped), it scares the bejesus out of the fisherman and town folk. Trouble is on the horizon for the doctor, as all become ever more suspicious of what he’s doing in the big house and how it relates to their recent “plague.”
Oona is also very suspicious of Victor Frankenstein (what with all the strange things occurring kind of parallel to his arrival), but before long, Oona is also working for him and almost (not quite) side-by-side with her best friend. Oona retains a desire for knowledge not so unlike Viktor’s desire when he was a lad, but there’s someone/something on a table covered with a sheet Oona is sure is the owner of the female hand she found … who it might’ve been keeps her focused on remaining at the big house. Back in town, jealousy (Stuart’s) abounds when May spends a bit too much time with the doctor … meanwhile, Oona witnesses what the doctor can do with dead things, including one of her favorite pets, but she’s still nervous about his best intentions.
Oona collapses (her heart is weak) and the doctor nurses her back to good health, at least temporarily, but she’s seen another man watching her; at times can feel him watching her … who is he? What is he?
No spoilers here, but Horsley’s tale kind of picks up from the original, Mary Shelley, version of Frankenstein (a.k.a. The Modern Prometheus), except Horsley’s tale is about the monster’s wife. In Shelley’s original, Dr. Frankenstein heads to Orkney to create a bride for his monster … Horsley deals with the bride’s version of the story, and … no spoilers.
The descriptive narrative is as good as it gets. Mr. Updike has nothing on Ms. Horsley (above), and you’ll learn a lot about these tiny islands off the coast of Scotland, including their island nomenclature. I sure did. Biblical references also abound … Jonah and the Whale … Lazarus … Adam and Eve …
Croft = A small rented farm …
Byre = a cowshed
Kirk = a church
Bairn = a child
Bonxie = sea bird predator
Escritoire = secretary/desk
Céilidh = Gaelic social gathering with Gealic folk music
Mary Shelley gave us Frankenstein. Kate Horsley, with brilliant descriptive prose, presents his bride. The Monster’s Wife is a wonderfully scripted tale about love between things that go bump in the night. Kate Horsley’s brilliant historical novel is more than an adjunct to the Shelley classic; it is a powerful statement about strong women and their ability to hold our interest on the page as well as in life.
Get The Monster’s Wife here:
Visit Kate’s webpage here:
As for the Orkney islands … you can even learn how to dress an Orkney crab!
Of course I’ve started to reread Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein immediately after finishing The Monster’s Wife. How could I not? I’m not sure I’ll be reviewing it. We shall see. In the meantime, TK VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDS Kate Horsley’s wonderful debut novel, The Monster’s Wife.
Another review of The Monster’s Wife can be found here:
Kate’s conversation with Spinetingler magazine prior to finishing her novel can be found here:
The NFL investigates itself … It certainly gets more amusing as each new day brings forth a new wrinkle to the mix. The NFL is going to hire former FBI Director, Robert Mueller, to perform an “independent” investigation of the Ray Rice fiasco. Not only that, two of the NFL team owners (Moonachie Blue’s, John Mara and the Steelers’ Art Rooney) will oversee the investigation.
That mean Mr. Mueller doesn’t know where his paycheck will be coming from?
Let’s draw some fun analogies here: Al Capone hires Frank Nitty to investigate the missing 24 cases of hooch from the back of Capone’s station wagon; the NYPD hires Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa to investigate the mob (oops, they actually did that and after being convicted of killing for the mob, are both serving life now) … or how about cross-dresser, Herbert Hoover? He was the original FBI director … anybody have a problem with this guy (i.e., his “dirty tricks” campaign against “subservise” students) investigating anything?
And just like the lie about the NFL never having seen the tape (or receiving it) was being somewhat digested by some ESPN analysts and others, Robert Mueller’s appointment (by the League itself) is already being defended by at least one ESPN analyst, Mike Greenberg, of the Mike & Mike show.
(sarcasm intended) How could anyone remotely tied to the government have their integrity questioned?
Greenberg stated the Mueller worked for two sitting presidents (George W. Bush and Barrack Obama). Maybe it’s me, but that isn’t much of an endorsement as regards credibility. Bush and Obama just don’t qualify as men who’ve never told a lie. Not unless you believe the Weapons of Mass Destruction argument for going to war with Iraq and/or that Mr. Obama’s declaration to “put on some comfortable shoes and join the picket lines” when collective bargaining was threatened was just an inside joke and he really didn’t mean it—see Wisconsin. Unless you believe that level of bullshit, it’s difficult to assume that politicians and/or those with skin in the game (i.e., the NFL) will appoint credible candidates to conduct their investigations).
Goodell went on CBS (a network tied directly to the NFL), and he not only didn’t answer the question (Did the NFL really need to see the tape?), he also covered his ass by saying “to my knowledge” nobody in the NFL had seen the tape.
There’s no way the NFL investigators (reportedly former FBI and Homeland security retirees) didn’t see this tape and/or report it to league officials. For one thing, at the slightest chance that Janay Rice at the time of the elevator incident, either fell or slipped (see the Baltimore Raven’s feeble attempt to cover up their claim as to why they didn’t seek the elevator tape), and she wasn’t punched in the face by Ray Rice, the NFL and Baltimore Ravens would’ve had a mitigated circumstance that maybe justified a 2 game suspension. Neither the NFL nor the Baltimore Ravens were going to pass on that chance, not by a longshot. Once it was reported that a second video existed, the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens either decided to maintain a blind eye or play a wait and see game; if it came out (which it did), then so long Ray Rice, you’ve sickened us and disgraced yourself—under the bus with you!
Mr. Goodell’s “good name” has now been championed by no less a hypocrite than Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Cheatriots (remember Spygate?). Kraft stated (also on CBS, an NFL contracted network) that he wouldn’t sign Ray Rice. Wow, what a humanitarian! Let’s just assume Kraft forgot his big hug and embrace of (twice convicted of domestic violence) Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in Kraft’s sky box at Choketriot stadium.
Thank you, Mr. Kraft, for all your heartfelt concerns … you remain a very wealthy asshole.
It’s all bullshit, amici. It’s all about NFL damage control, and that’s all it’ll ever be about. These are billionaires who could care less about Ray Rice, his wife, or any other individual they see as anything more than a commodity. When the commodity is too damaged to retain, they no longer serve their primary purpose, to feed the bottom line (i.e., profit).
Think I’m just a cynical socialist blaming the owners? How about the guy playing for Carolina who’s been CONVICTED of domestic abuse but continues to play in the NFL? Greg Hardy, a defensive end, was CONVICTED, but is appealing the conviction. In the meantime, the Panthers retain his services ON THE FIELD, because let’s face it, the NFL and the Panthers are more concerned about domestic violence than winning football games.
Ray McDonald in San Francisco hasn’t been convicted, but he was arrested for allegedly hitting his pregnant girlfriend. He played last Sunday too …
As for Ray Rice: I don’t believe he should be forever banned from the NFL. If he can clean up his act, which he probably can’t do, give him a second shot after a year suspension. If he can’t get his act together, so be it.
Dogfella: How an Abandoned Shih Tzu Named Bruno Turned This Mobster's Life Around--A Memoir (Hardcover – May 26, 2015, by James Guiliani (Author) with Charlie Stella … James and I did the work and are awaiting the last edits from the publisher. In the meantime, his book is available for pre-order. Go here and pre-order now!
Check out saxophonist, Fred Vigdor and The Average White Band … they’re coming to Hackensack, New Jersey on September 27, 2014 …
Me, Jimmy LaCugna and Rich Williams listened to the Average White Band our entire trip home from Minot, North Dakota one summer. I bought a car in Minot from a guy on the wrestling team, an Oldsmobile, F-85 (ZoSo) … and under the seat was an 8-track tape … the Average White Band … 17 hours later, we knew every note of every song on the album … it was our only music …
Pick up the Pieces …