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