Title: Out of the Shadows
Author: Joanne Rendell
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.