Mitchelstown Castle, seat of the notorious Anglo-Irish Kingsborough family, hums with intrigue. An impoverished but fiery young English governess seeks justice after an aristocratic womanizer is fatally stabbed at a harvest festival bonfire.
When young rebel Liam Donovan, who hated the rogue for seducing his niece, is accused of his murder, governess Mary, champion of the oppressed, determines to prove him innocent. It's a story that would make a captivating British film starring Emma Thompson. Better yet, how about the story told in book form by an accomplished Vermont author? Well, now there's "Midnight Fires: a Mystery with Mary Wollstonecraft" by Nancy Means Wright of Cornwall, Vt.
Publishers Weekly said Wright's new book is "captivating... as Mary snoops around in search of the culprit, she is bound not to lose herself to the mystery, her job, or the charms of any man. Wright deftly illuminates 18th century class tensions."
Mary Wollstonecraft-mother of Mary Shelley who wrote "Frankenstein..."-was herself celebrated, even a cause c l bre in her day, as a free-thinking rebel.
In 1792, a time when a man could even lock his wife in a madhouse with impunity, Wollstonecraft published the groundbreaking "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman" in which she advocated the right to divorce, along with equal and coeducational education for girls as well as boys. Abigail Adams in colonial New England loved the book, but others labeled Wollstonecraft a "hyena in petticoats".
Wollstonecraft's short life was no less unconventional, with the kidnap of her sister from an abusive husband, unhappy love affairs, a suicide attempt, and involvement in the French Revolution.
Wright, the author of 15 books and a chapbook of poems on Wollstonecraft's colorful life, hopes that "Midnight Fires", first in a trilogy, will present her to the world as the brilliant, but wholly human, passionate, and conflicted woman she was.
"Midnight Fires: a Mystery with Mary Wollstonecraft" is published by Perseverance Press.