Out of the Shadows

Friday, September 3, 2010

Title: Out of the Shadows
Author: Joanne Rendell
Pages: 336
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: NAL (Penguin)
Release Date: September 7, 2010

In her third novel, Joanne Rendell explores the life of Frankenstein author, Mary Shelley, and the connection she has to modern day Clara Fitzgerald. I've followed Joanne's novels since her first one, and I adored her last book, Crossing Washington Square. I also love how she has tied all her books in with literary themes. But I can't say I enjoyed this one as much as her past books.

Out of the Shadows tells two alternating stories -- that of Clara Fitzgerald who is chasing her connection to Mary Shelly and that of Mary Shelley as she grows up and eventually becomes the author of the well-known novel, Frankenstein. Clara's been engaged for five years to Anthony who is more committed to his budding notoriety for his research than he is to her. Clara recently lost her mother, and her relationship with her somewhat narcissistic sister, Maxie, is lacking, if not frustrating in itself. Clara's mother had always told her and her sister stories before bed, often including stories of their relation to Ms. Shelley. The novel starts out as Clara makes the decision to complete a DNA test to confirm this relation. Mary Shelley's alternating story starts out when she is a young girl at home with her father and stepmother listening to stories.

For the most part, the narration in this book was a bit too drawn out for my taste and many of the paragraphs felt too minutial for me. I also would have preferred a larger amount of dialogue and showing of the story than being told about the thoughts and goings on of the characters. I will say it picked up though about three quarters of the way through and increased in action and excitement which surprised me!

My favorite part of the book was the story of Mary Shelley. I found her story interesting and engaging. I had fun learning about her past since I knew next to nothing about Frankenstein or the author prior to reading this. I also found it intriguing the way Joanne Rendell wove together the story of Frankenstein one the one hand with the modern day overzealousy of the character's fiance and his scientific research. I think if I had read Frankenstein before then I may have gotten more out of reading this, so if you have read this book, you may enjoy this book.


Trisha said...

See now I want to read Frankenstein and then this. Dracula and Dracula, My Love really put me on a paired-reading kick..

christina said...

I've never heard of this author but I'm intrigued since you mentioned she ties literary elements into it.

Lori Hedgpeth said...

Like christina, I have never heard of this author but I am adding her to be TBR list after your praise. She sounds promising - - and I love the cover of this book!

Thanks for the review.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Sounds awesome. And the cover is amazing. Haunting, mysterious, and I love the touch of lace.

Stephanie aka The Stark Raving Bibliophile said...

I liked Crossing Washington Square, and this sounds intriguing!

Zibilee said...

I have been curious about this book, but it sounds as though it fell a little flat for you. It's always daring to weave real life people into fiction, and it sounds as though the author did that bit well, at least! Great review!

bermudaonion said...

I just read this book and thought it was good, but I wasn't crazy about the ending - it just seemed too pat to me.

Cleverly Inked said...

A little drawn out but still a good book. I might need to pick this up.

Booksnyc said...

I didn't realize this was the same author as Crossing Washington Square - that book just arrived from PBS for me last week.

Thanks for the review!

Post a Comment