Cleopatra and Frankenstein
For readers of Modern Lovers and Conversations with Friends, an addictive, humorous, and poignant debut novel about the shock waves caused by one couple's impulsive marriage.
‘A tender, devastating and funny exploration of love and friendship and the yearning for self-evisceration. Coco Mellors is an elegant and exciting new voice’ PANDORA SYKES, author of How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right
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.
Cleo and Frank run head-first into a romance that neither of them can quite keep up with. It reshapes their lives and the lives of those around them, whether that’s Cleo's best friend struggling to embrace his gender identity in the wake of her marriage, or Frank's financially dependent sister arranging sugar daddy dates after being cut off. Ultimately, this chance meeting between two strangers outside of a New Year’s Eve party changes everything, for better or worse.
Cleopatra and Frankenstein is an astounding and painfully relatable debut novel about the spontaneous decisions that shape our entire lives and those imperfect relationships born of unexpectedly perfect evenings.
‘Positively inhalable. I was intensely consumed by the world of Cleopatra and Frankenstein for a few happy days’ The Evening Standard
‘Friends who couldn’t get enough of Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends will fall head over heels for Coco Mellor’s debut novel’ ES Magazine
‘Cleopatra and Frankenstein, the luminous debut novel from Coco Mellors, is a book about many things: It's a great, swooning love story; a shattering depiction of how addiction and mental illness warp our lives; and a perceptive, witty portrait of globalized New York. But most of all, Mellors has written a devastatingly human book, at turns sharp and tender, that marks her as the rare writer whose sentences are as beautiful as they are wise. An unforgettable read’ Sam Lansky, author of The Gilded Razor and Broken People
‘A character driven epic thoroughly engrossing and entirely magnificent. It is thrilling to read a book that articles with nuance and compassion the way gender impacts every part of our lives. Sometimes you can just tell that a debut novel has been percolating and perfecting inside an author's mind until it is ready to leap into-and ultimately change-the world’ Adam Eli, author of The Queer Conscience
“Mellors’ remarkably assured and sensitive debut … strongly evoke[s] Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life… At its core, it’s a novel about how love and lovers are easily misinterpreted and how romantic troubles affect friends and family. A canny and engrossing rewiring of the big-city romance.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
‘Insistent, stylish and utterly captivating, the prose just sings.’ Heidi James, author of, The Sound Mirror
In this involving if strained debut, Mellors dissects the tumultuous relationship between two magnetic and damaged people. Frank, a successful ad executive with a worsening drinking problem, meets Cleo, an aspiring British painter 20 years his junior, on New Year's Eve in Manhattan, and they begin an affair. Six months later, they're married. Soon, resentment, carelessness, infidelity, and unresolved issues from their childhoods come between them (Frank's mother was an emotionally distant alcoholic and Cleo's died by suicide), but their intoxicating chemistry keeps them together. Mellors leavens this marital Sturm und Drang with a satirical portrait of present-day New York life. Some of it lands one of Cleo's friends dismisses a man for having "shoe trees in all his shoes, even the sneakers. Like a psychopath" but too often it reads like caricature. Zoe, Frank's younger half-sister, attends a "Climaxing to Consciousness" workshop; Santiago, a Peruvian chef, laments that he is "The fat friend. The sidekick. But I have feelings. I feel a lot." A notable exception is Eleanor, a screenwriter who takes a freelance job at Frank's firm and develops a flirtation with him. Her winning sections achieve the mix of wit, pathos, and romance the rest strives to attain. The tone and intrigue can feel a bit scattered, but an enticing aura glows at this work's heart. Correction: An earlier version of this review incorrectly named the Santiago character.
This book is a tapestry, the story weaving perfectly through the characters you quickly come to know and love. It evokes a feel of 70s New York that once belonged to Patti Smith. The way Coco Mellors describes everything is so considered and beautiful and consistent. I have absolutely loved reading this book.
Hear me out!
I’ve read a lot of reviews were people have criticised the main characters with being superficial and the writing style as a knock off Sally Rooney.
I loved this book! In particular, how it did not focus on the lovey-dovey romance but the trials and tribulations that are encountered throughout a marriage. Coco Mellors did a wonderful job of showing that no matter how wealthy, successful and beautiful your life may be on the surface that all of that is traded off in exchange for being a good person.
My only critique I had of this book was that a lot of supporting characters (Zoe, Quentin, Anders and Santiago) had loose ends that remained severed. I hope these ends are tied by either a follow on book or are depicted in the upcoming TV adaptation.
Not as great as imagined
Was very excited to read this book but couldn’t help feeling a bit let down. The story is a bit too obvious. Don’t buy the book at full price.