Mary Shelley: Romancenand Realitynby Emily SunsteinnBoston: Little, Brown and Company;n478 pp., $24.95nWith the publication of the firstnvolume of an expanded editionnof her letters in 1980, and now thisnbiography, Mary Shelley’s reputation isnbeing reconsidered. This renewed attentionnis not due to the perennialninterest in her husband, Percy BysshenShelley, or to one of those periodicnreworkings of her greatest book, Frankenstein.nIt is due to the popularity ofnwomen’s studies as a full-fledged academicndiscipline. And so the unarticulatednquestion for Emily Sunstein is,nwas Mary Shelley a feminist? FornSunstein, the answer is an implicit yes:nMary, she writes in her conclusion, wasn”indeed her mother’s daughter, heir tonWollstonecraft’s Romantic feminismnand to a fuller measure of punishmentnfor it.” But by any standards of feminism,nmodern or 19th-century, MarynShelley would flunk — and she was thenfirst to say so.nWhen people think of Mary Shelley,nit is usually as a child; the sixteenyear-oldnwho fled with Shelley tonFrance, the nineteen-year-old who begannFrankenstein during a stormy summernon Lake Geneva in the companynof her lover and Lord Byron. But whennShelley died in 1822, drowned sailingnfrom Leghorn to Pisa, Mary was onlyn24, and was to live another 29 years.nThe daughter of the feminist MarynWollstonecraft and the social philosophernWilliam Godwin, wife to thenRomantic poet, she was to understandnas no one else in her family the consequencesnof adhering to their radicalnprinciples.nShe has been idealized for abandon-nKatherine Dalton is managing editornof Ghronicles.n32/CHRONICLESnAll For Lovenby Katharine Daltonn”Alas, that love should be a blight and shamenTo those who seek all sympathies in one!—-“n— Shelley, “Laon and Cythna’ning “all for love” and pilloried, often bynher friends, for the greater caution andn”conservatism” of her later years.nWhat emerges from Sunstein’s biographynis a Mary Shelley recognizablenfrom her journals and letters: willful,nloving if not always demonstrably affectionate,na devoted mother who was,ndespite the difficulties, equally devotednto Shelley and his memory; a privatenwoman whose life was made extremelynpublic.nIn many ways Mary Shelley had antragic life. Her birth killed her mother,nand she was raised by Godwin and anstepmother she abhorred. Godwinn(whom Mary revered) broke with hern— though not permanently — whennshe ran off^ with Shelley, even thoughnwith that act she was proving herself tonbe her father’s (and mother’s) daughter:nboth were proponents of free lovenand Mary had asked Godwin for hisnblessing. Worst of all, Mary lost notnonly Shelley but three of her fournchildren over the course of their eight-nnnyear relationship.nShe was also unlucky in her friends.nHer stepsister, Jane Clairmont, wouldnbe a none-too-grateful dependent ofnMary’s on and off^ for years. JanenWilliams, commonlaw wife and thennwidow of the Edward Williams whondrowned with Shelley, also was supportednby Mary, who doted on her.nJane repaid her by telling everyonenwho would listen that Mary had beenncold and cruel to Shelley in his lastnyear; that she, not Mary, was the lovenof Shelley’s life — and even that Shelleynwould have married her had he notndied at sea.nThe men in Mary’s life were nonbetter. After the cremation LeighnHunt quarreled with the new widownover who should have Shelley’s heart;ndespite this and other great unkindnessesnto Mary she was to continue tonaid the irresponsible Hunt with moneynand support all her life. AubreynBeauclerk, with whom Mary was innlove later in her life, jilted her twice.nShelley himself betrayed Mary withnher stepsister perhaps as early as 1814,ncertainly by 1822; nor was Jane thenonly one. After his death Mary, as hisneditor, had the painful task of readingnthrough poems lamenting his unhappinessnwith her, and other poems (notably,n”Epipsychidion”) dedicated tonother women.nFinally, there was Godwin. He wasnbitterly furious with Mary for runningnoff with Shelley, but saw no reason thatnthe loans Shelley was extending himnshould not continue. The rumors thatnGodwin had “sold” Mary to Shelleynarose directly from this business. Overnthe years Godwin continued to writenletters that were at once insulting andndemanding, such as the following,nwritten when Mary was in a depressionnfollowing the death of her son William:nI cannot but consider itnas . . . putting you quite amongnthe commonality and mob ofn