I love Joanne Rendell’s novels. The Professors’ Wives Club and Crossing Washington Square were both set on a fictional university campus, as is her newest Out of the Shadows. That strong interesting setting adds to the experience of reading the novel.
Joanne Rendell writes popular women’s fiction with no apologies, in fact Crossing Washington Square even centered on the debate of validity of chick-lit from a literary standpoint. In Out of the Shadows, she once again delivers a story with a little romance and a little self-discovery or empowerment, which is a hallmark of chick-lit, but she does so with a slightly headier bent.
Clara Fitzgerald life is sort of stalled. Personally she seems to be stuck in a perpetual engaged state as she waits for her fiance to break through on his cancer drug research so they can settle down in one place and she can focus on her career and set a wedding date. As she follows him around from university to university where he tries to get attention for his research, her professional career has suffered. Instead of working on her next book, she’s become obsessed with trying to prove her family’s biological link to Mary Shelley. It was something her mother, recently deceased, always shared with her, and it’s a way for Clara to reconnect with her.
The story goes back and forth between Mary Shelley’s teen years, when she first met Percy Shelley, and the moral dilemma that creates for her, and Clara’s own moral dilemma’s that are uncovered as she learns more and more about her fiance.
Out of the Shadows also features several interesting and fully developed secondary characters. The ending sort of gives Clara an easy-out as far as dealing with personal choices that Clara has to make, but Renell even makes this work.
If you like to delve into light fiction that isn’t completely mindless, I recommend this book and Joanne Renell’s other novels as well.
Jennifer Donovan loves fiction, memoir, and children’s literature. Give her a good story, and she’ll happily lose herself in it. You can also find her at Snapshot.