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Unfashioned Creatures

Lesley McDowell (Author)

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“Monstrously good.” – Louise Welsh. London, 1823. Mary Shelley’s real-life friend Isabella Baxter Booth is ‘disturbed in her reason’ – seeing ghosts and dependent on narcotics to escape a hellish life with an increasingly violent, deranged husband. Fearful of her own murderous impulses towards him, Isabella flees for her childhood home in Scotland, where she meets an ambitious young doctor, Alexander Balfour. He will stop at nothing to establish a reputation as a genius in the emerging science of psychiatry and he believes that Isabella could be the key to his greatness. But as his own torments threaten to overwhelm Alexander, is he really the best judge of which way madness lies?

REVIEWS OF Unfashioned Creatures

'“A meticulously researched gothic novel full of madness, ghosts and murderous desires. Lesley McDowell brilliantly evokes the tension between the scientific imagination and creative longings. Monstrously good.”' -–Louise Welsh

'Unfashioned Creatures is a finely worked and confident flight of Gothic fancy that stands up well to scrutiny in our cynical, self-analytical age. McDowell's ear for dialogue is already finely tuned and her handling of the contrasting narratives deftly judged...it's a tantalising read.' - Mary Crockett, The Scotsman Read more

'Unfashioned Creatures reads much like a novel of the time it is set; indeed, it is a novel that Shelley herself could easily have put her name to. Dealing with madness, murderous impulse and scientific obsession, it is Gothic literature to the core.' - Rebecca Dark, welovethisbook.com Read more

‘****’ – The List Read more

'McDowell maintains an engaging edge of ambiguity throughout. McDowell's prose is dense but sharp, charged with urgency by her deep interest in her subject. As in Alexander Balfour's theory of madness, her passion for it in this novel is infectious.' - Brian McCabe, Herald Scotland Read more

'Lesley McDowell has exceeded all expectations with this sensitive, intelligent and thoroughly researched gothic novel.' - Fiona MacHugh, Dundee University Review of the Arts Read more


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Unfashioned Creatures

About the author

Lesley McDowell

Lesley McDowell is an author of fiction and literary criticism, and freelance literary critic who has written for The Independent on Sunday, The Herald, The Scotsman and other publications. Her first novel was The Picnic (2007). Her second book, Between the Sheets: The Literary Liaisons of Nine 20th-Century Women Writers, was shortlisted for the non-fiction prize in the 2011 Scottish Book Awards.