Crossing Washington Square – Joanne Rendell

Title: Crossing Washington Square
Author: Joanne Rendell
ISBN: 9780451227843
Pages: 336
Release Date: September 1, 2009
Publisher: NAL Trade
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

Rachel: Young and passionate about her career, she wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s left her job as an assistant professor of English in North Carolina for a dream job at Manhattan U. But are her ideas about the value of popular fiction – such as Bridget Jones’ Diary – going to be welcomed or will she be ostracized as someone who isn’t serious about literature?

Diana: A woman in what seems to be the man’s world of academia, Diana has worked very hard to achieve a position of respect as one of the top English professors at Manhattan U. She keeps her emotions in check, presenting a cool exterior to the world, but deep down she is aware of what she has lost in her life. She works hard to be taken seriously as an academic.

These two women, while opposites on the surface, are forced to work together at Manhattan U. Through crises and heartbreak, Diana and Rachel are forced to make some hard realizations about themselves and each other.

Review:

Joanne Rendell struck gold with her first novel The Professors’ Wives Club [review], and she returns to the familiar territory of fictional university Manhattan U (likely based on New York University) in her second novel Crossing Washington Square. In it, Rendell proves that her first novel was not just a fluke; Crossing Washington Square is a charming novel that you won’t want to put down.

The most appealing part of Crossing Washington Square was the discussion of literature versus popular fiction within its pages. More and more these days, “serious” critics slam genres such as women’s fiction and chick lit, dismissing them as fluff and therefore having no value. Using Rachel as a conduit, Rendell shows that these lighter genres can still have valuable information for readers; they shouldn’t be looked over simply because of the images on their covers. She has very specific discussions in this novel which are great to read and really prove her point. Just because a book is light doesn’t mean it doesn’t have substance.

The academic setting within Crossing Washington Square works very well within this novel. It was interesting to see the departmental politics; Rendell describes the feelings of professors very well. She makes Rachel’s frustrations with her students palpable.

Both Rachel and Diana are extremely well-written characters. While readers won’t necessarily be able to identify with both because they are so different, they will sympathize with them. Rendell really makes both of these women come alive within the pages of Crossing Washington Square. Additionally, it is very satisfying to watch each of them influence each other and grow as people. It’s really nice to see Rachel finding strength within herself and Diana begin to open up to people as the book progresses.

Crossing Washington Square was a thoroughly enjoyable novel that was a delight to read. The discussion of popular fiction versus literature alone makes the book worth reading, but the fact that it’s a wonderful women’s fiction novel is icing on the cake. This is a book that’s not to be missed!

Comments

  1. I have not read The Professors’ Wives Club; And this one sounds really good too!

    I need to read th 1st one anyways! When will I ever read everything I want to :((

  2. I have not read The Professors’ Wives Club; And this one sounds really good too!

    I need to read th 1st one anyways! When will I ever read everything I want to :((

  3. I am unfamiliar with this author, but I think I MUST read this novel as it has everything that I would wish a good book to possess: memorable characters, academic setting, and a discussion of literature. Thanks for another great recommendation!

  4. I am unfamiliar with this author, but I think I MUST read this novel as it has everything that I would wish a good book to possess: memorable characters, academic setting, and a discussion of literature. Thanks for another great recommendation!

  5. I read her first novel and enjoyed it! I’ll have to get my hands on this one because it looks like it might even be better!

  6. I read her first novel and enjoyed it! I’ll have to get my hands on this one because it looks like it might even be better!

  7. The literature vs. popular fiction debate is very interesting. I’ll have to get my hands on this book at some point. Thanks for the review.

    –Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

  8. The literature vs. popular fiction debate is very interesting. I’ll have to get my hands on this book at some point. Thanks for the review.

    –Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

  9. I’ve never read anything by this author but after reading your post it sounds like I need to. Thanks!!

  10. I’ve never read anything by this author but after reading your post it sounds like I need to. Thanks!!

  11. I completely agree. After reading this I’m interested to check out The Professor’s Wives Club.

  12. I completely agree. After reading this I’m interested to check out The Professor’s Wives Club.

  13. Never heard of this book but yes, The Professors’ Wives Club, is on my Wishlist. Might as well add this one too.

  14. Never heard of this book but yes, The Professors’ Wives Club, is on my Wishlist. Might as well add this one too.

  15. Well I haven’t read either, but the academic setting is something I can totally relate to. I’ve added both to my wish list.

  16. Well I haven’t read either, but the academic setting is something I can totally relate to. I’ve added both to my wish list.

  17. I loved this one! Here’s my review . I have an interview coming up with the author too.

    I def. recommend this book as well.

  18. I loved this one! Here’s my review . I have an interview coming up with the author too.

    I def. recommend this book as well.

  19. The meta-fiction junkie that I am, I totally want to read this book now.

  20. The meta-fiction junkie that I am, I totally want to read this book now.

  21. Thanks for the review. I’ve been wanting to read Rendell’s books since discovering her column on Huffington Post, which is definitely Google Reader worthy!

  22. Thanks for the review. I’ve been wanting to read Rendell’s books since discovering her column on Huffington Post, which is definitely Google Reader worthy!

  23. A book about books! What could be better? I’d love to read this one.

  24. A book about books! What could be better? I’d love to read this one.

  25. I really enjoyed The Professors’ Wives’ Club, and after your review, I’m determined to pick up this one, too.

  26. I really enjoyed The Professors’ Wives’ Club, and after your review, I’m determined to pick up this one, too.

  27. This is already on my list. Thanks for the reviewing. I may have to break down and buy it.

  28. This is already on my list. Thanks for the reviewing. I may have to break down and buy it.

  29. I thought that the chick-lit/classical lit discussion in the book was great. Though I don’t think that I connected with the characters as well as the first book, I liked this one better.

  30. I thought that the chick-lit/classical lit discussion in the book was great. Though I don’t think that I connected with the characters as well as the first book, I liked this one better.

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