Books / Book Reviews

Cleopatra and Frankenstein: A beautiful debut by Coco Mellors

Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors

Thus far, 2022 has not been a great year for reading. Drowning in on-going visa dramas and the uncertainty of living in a country where I’m not a permanent resident has – it’s safe to say – had something of a dire effect on my inclination for books. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve started a new novel, only to read a chapter or two before giving up, and leaving said book to collect dust on one of the many stacks of books piled up around my apartment.

And, now that my boyfriend has moved in with me, long and lazy evenings curled up on my sofa with a book have been replaced with night, after night, after night glued to Breaking Bad (I know I’m fifteen years late but, here we are). Thankfully, as often happens when it comes to my reading life, a book found me exactly when I needed it. Plastered all over Instagram and recommended by my dear friend Caitie, Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors came as a welcome relief and a picture-perfect remedy to what was a seemingly never-ending, God-awful reading slump.  

Cleopatra and Frankenstein Book Review

A charming debut from Mellors, Cleopatra and Frankenstein is a beautifully written tale that is atmospheric, rich with nuance and offers readers a wonderful dose of escapism. It’s a story that starts with a classic meet cute: two strangers meet in an elevator as they’re both trying to escape a party on the cusp of the new year. Cleo – an ethereal yet difficult artists who hails from England is in her early twenties, while Frank, a successful media mogul is in his forties.

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Promise lingers in the air as they ring in the new year, and a whirlwind romance, soon evolves into a marriage, meaning that Cleo’s expiring student visa and the borrowed time on which she’s living in NYC is quickly resolved.

What follows is an exploration of love and life set against a gritty and glamorous New York backdrop as we meet a growing cast of characters, each of whom have a part to play in the complexity of Cleo and Frank’s relationship.

Cleopatra and Frankenstein offers a shrewd take on the muddle and messiness of modern relationships; and Mellor does a great job of painting a fragmented world full of choice and chaos, and the search for true happiness. A love letter to New York, to the chaos of finding one’s feet, to the intricacies of waning relationships and to what it is to be human, Cleopatra and Frankenstein will no doubt cultivate a legion of loyal fans waiting for Mellors’ next move.

Buy Cleopatra and Frankenstein from Bookshop.orgBook Depository or Waterstones.

Cleopatra and Frankenstein Summary

For readers of Modern Lovers and Conversations with Friends, Cleopatra and Frankenstein is an addictive, humorous, and poignant debut novel about the shock waves caused by one couple’s impulsive marriage.

New York is slipping from Cleo’s grasp. Sure, she’s at a different party every other night, but she barely knows anyone. Her student visa is running out, and she doesn’t even have money for cigarettes. But then she meets Frank. Twenty years older, Frank’s life is full of all the success and excess that Cleo’s lacks. He offers her the chance to be happy, the freedom to paint, and the opportunity to apply for a green card. She offers him a life imbued with beauty and art—and, hopefully, a reason to cut back on his drinking. He is everything she needs right now.

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Coco Mellors, author of Cleopatra and Frankenstein

Further reading

I loved Coco Mellor’s modern love story in The New York Times: An Anxious Person Tries to Be Chill.

Coco Mellors Author Bio

Coco Mellors was raised in London and New York City. She completed her MFA in Fiction at New York University, where she was a Goldwater Fellow. She currently lives in Venice, Los Angeles.

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