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Midnight: Three Women at the Hour of Reckoning

Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Joan of Arc. Three stories we thought we knew, but we didn’t, not like we know them after we see them at midnight. This book takes each of these women as she faces her greatest challenge—a homeless Jane Austen. Joan of Arc at the stake. Mary Shelley in Italy, watching the water, wondering how she will face all the forces ranged against her if her husband, the poet Percy Shelley, doesn’t come back. Vastly different stories, but the moment is the same, the darkest one. [Norton, March, 2019]

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Critics re Midnight: 

Like Hilary Mantel, Shorr inhabits the minds of her characters with such conviction that there are moments when the line between fact and fiction seems to disappear.

—Miranda Seymour, Times Literary Supplement, London, May 3, 2019

Shorr’s Midnight is a moving read about how three famous women in the past lived through their own difficult times. Like other such collections of women’s lives, it promises inspiration, and the emphasis on three very different moments of crisis seems well-suited for our own challenging moment and for any reader going through her own personal midnight.

—Anne Fernald, Wellesley Magazine, Spring, 2019 

[A] gripping, imaginative foray into the lives of Austen, Shelley, and Joan of Arc, as each faced a life-altering event. This book gives us the compelling stories we’ve always wished they’d recorded: Austen accepting an eligible man’s marriage proposal, only to withdraw it; Shelley writing Frankenstein as her life careened out of control; and Joan of Arc’s thoughts, in and beyond the flames.

—Devoney Looser, Foundation Professor of English at Arizona State University and author of The Making of Jane Austen.

 "Victoria Shorr’s Midnight is a flamboyant display of empathy and wit. Written with a novelist’s narrative flair and a biographer’s factual command, Shorr recreates and reassesses the lives of Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, and Joan of Art at the hour of their reckoning.  A deft, vivid, first-rate read which delights and informs on every bold page.

—John Lahr, Tennessee Williams, Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, etc.

I finished Victoria Shorr's Midnight last night and was absolutely enthralled - the last pages had me sitting bolt upright in bed completely oblivious to anything but Joan of Arc's last moments. I've never read anything like this book.

—Jessica Hindman, Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir.

"Like Shorr's debut fiction, Backlands, this book too is written in pacey, novelistic prose...animating the women's lives with easy intimacy. Shorr is remarkably good at making these oft-told stories sound as exciting as lived experience."

Laura Feigel, "Remarkable Women,"  NYT Book Review, Mar. 17, 2019