Book Review: Out of the Shadows – Joanne Rendell

Title: Out of the Shadows
Author: Joanne Rendell
ISBN: 9780451231123
Pages: 336
Release Date: September 7, 2010
Publisher: NAL Trade
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

Clara Fitzgerald is a professor at prestigious Manhattan U, living with her fiancé of five years, Anthony.  Since her mother’s death, Clara has felt bereft and alone.  Her mother always claimed they were somehow related to Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, and Clara has been exploring Shelley more and more in an effort to feel somehow connected to her mother.  Clara meets with Kay, an elderly Mary Shelley scholar, and together they explore Shelley.  By doing so, Clara begins to realize what’s important to her and what she wants – and doesn’t want – out of life.

Review:

I was very excited to pick up Joanne Rendell’s third novel, as I really enjoyed The Professor’s Wives’ Club and Crossing Washington Square.  I was thrilled that she returned to the same setting as well – the fictitious Manhattan U.  I love academic settings for novels, and though this didn’t play into the novel quite as much as it did in her other two books, it still was a nice backdrop.

I loved that Clara was pursuing Mary Shelley for such personal reasons.  She felt so lost because of her mother’s death, especially because it was so sudden.  Researching Mary Shelley helped Clara remember her mother.  After awhile, though, it changed into something else altogether – she needed to understand Mary Shelley for herself.  It became a part of her search for a sense of identity and to understand how she viewed the world. 

Anthony was a pretty despicable person.  From the beginning, it was clear that he wasn’t very invested in his relationship with Clara.  As the novel progressed, his attempts to control her and assumption that she would follow him to the ends of the earth showed how arrogant he really was.  I hated that she was with him, but I didn’t blame her.  Part of Clara’s growth in this novel is discovering her sense of independence, and it’s satisfying to watch that happen.

I enjoyed the tidbits about Mary Shelley interspersed through Out of the Shadows.  I don’t know anything about her, but it really sounded like she led an interesting life.  I could understand why she was an inspiration for Clara.  After reading this novel, I’d like to read more about Mary Shelley.

Out of the Shadows was a well-written, thoughtful novel that I really enjoyed.  I’ve come to expect smart, interesting novels from Joanne Rendell, and I’m so happy to say that this one didn’t disappoint at all.  If you haven’t read any of Joanne’s novels, I highly recommend all of them.  Though they all share a setting, these books aren’t sequels, so you can read them in any order.

Comments

  1. I’ve seen a few reviews of this one, and I can help but be interested. Mary Shelley has a fascinating story (read “Passion” if you want the skinny on all those romantic poets), and I’d read it just for that.

  2. I’ve seen a few reviews of this one, and I can help but be interested. Mary Shelley has a fascinating story (read “Passion” if you want the skinny on all those romantic poets), and I’d read it just for that.

  3. I was about to mention Passion, like Sandy–I’m more interested in Shelley herself than Clara, but I’m glad the historical connection was enjoyable.

  4. I was about to mention Passion, like Sandy–I’m more interested in Shelley herself than Clara, but I’m glad the historical connection was enjoyable.

  5. I’m dying to read this one, specifically for the Shelley tie-in! Frankenstein is one of my favorite classic horror books!

  6. I’m dying to read this one, specifically for the Shelley tie-in! Frankenstein is one of my favorite classic horror books!

  7. This is a book that I definitely want to read. I think the dual storyline would be really interesting, and I also like that you mention that the main character shows a lot of growth through the story. Great review! I will be picking this one up!

  8. This is a book that I definitely want to read. I think the dual storyline would be really interesting, and I also like that you mention that the main character shows a lot of growth through the story. Great review! I will be picking this one up!

  9. Hmm, this book & author sound interesting. I’ll check them out!

  10. Hmm, this book & author sound interesting. I’ll check them out!

  11. This is the second Rendell review I read today. Hummm I’ think I”m missing out.

  12. This is the second Rendell review I read today. Hummm I’ think I”m missing out.

  13. This sounds really fantastic. I’ve never read anything by this author, but I love the idea of the setting and the tie with classic lit.

  14. This sounds really fantastic. I’ve never read anything by this author, but I love the idea of the setting and the tie with classic lit.

  15. I really enjoyed this one too, but was a little bit let down by the ending.

  16. I really enjoyed this one too, but was a little bit let down by the ending.

  17. The Mary Shelley angle really excites me. I want to read this one.

  18. The Mary Shelley angle really excites me. I want to read this one.

  19. I also tend to really enjoy books that take place in academic settings. I might check out one of her earlier books to see if this is something that would appeal to me. 🙂

  20. I also tend to really enjoy books that take place in academic settings. I might check out one of her earlier books to see if this is something that would appeal to me. 🙂

  21. I like the setting very much. The author is new to me so I am very glad of this post highlighting not just this book but her others as well.

  22. I like the setting very much. The author is new to me so I am very glad of this post highlighting not just this book but her others as well.

  23. Initially I didn’t like this jacket at first viewing, but after reading your description and the Mary Shelley connection it makes way more sense. I had expected to see a cover more like Rendell’s CROSSING WASHINGTON SQUARE novel, which I really enjoyed. Sounds like I’ll have to pick this one up as well! Thanks for the review.

  24. Initially I didn’t like this jacket at first viewing, but after reading your description and the Mary Shelley connection it makes way more sense. I had expected to see a cover more like Rendell’s CROSSING WASHINGTON SQUARE novel, which I really enjoyed. Sounds like I’ll have to pick this one up as well! Thanks for the review.

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