March Book Club: Cleopatra and Frankenstein
Our book club choice for March is Coco Mellor’s Cleopatra and Frankenstein. This debut novel has been getting plenty of buzz on social media since its publication last year, which of course piqued our interest. Frequently compared to Sally Rooney’s style, the novel is a new take on the minutiae of modern relationships.
At twenty-four years old, British artist Cleo embarks on an adventure, leaving her homeland for the bustling streets of New York City. As she navigates her way through the sleepless metropolis, Cleo's student visa edges closer to its expiration. It is then that she encounters Frank, a man two decades her senior and a self-made success story. Surrounded by luxuries that Cleo could only dream of, Frank presents her with the opportunity for happiness, the freedom to pursue her passion for painting, and the possibility of obtaining a Green Card.
Their whirlwind romance culminates in a spontaneous marriage, which sets off a series of unforeseen consequences that profoundly impact their lives and the lives of those closest to them. Each captivating chapter delves into the experiences of Cleo, Frank, and a diverse ensemble of their nearest and dearest as they evolve and mature. From Cleo's best friend grappling with their genderqueer identity, to Frank's financially reliant sister turning to a sugar daddy website after being severed from her brother's support, each character's journey is as enthralling and poignantly relatable as the next.
“Love looks through spectacles that make copper look like gold, poverty like riches, and tears like pearls.”
This is Coco Mellor’s first novel, and is peppered with rich, imagery-heavy language that at times strikes gold, whilst sometimes coming across as overly saccharine and nonsensical. The characters lead very dramatic lives, each at the centre of a private storm of self-doubt, struggle and self-destructive behaviour. But there is a lot to relate to here, and some moments that ring with an insight I’m keen to see more in Mellor’s future novels.
“He wished he loved her a little more or hated her a little less, something to tip the scale. Instead, he lived in the fraught balance between the two, each increasing the intensity of the other....”
Mellors is already working on the forthcoming novel Blue Sisters. Cleopatra and Frankenstein is being adapted by Warner Bros into a TV program, and we’re excited to see how this intricate, complicated novel is translated onto the small screen. At times a heavy-handed debut, but still a beautiful ode to the complications of love and a love letter to New York city.
We loved reading this novel this month and are so excited to discuss it with you- please tell us what you thought via social media or by commenting on this post!