Out of the Shadows by Joanne Rendell
Published by NAL Trade, an imprint of Penguin
All her life, Clara’s mother has told her about their family’s alleged connection Mary Shelley, a story that Clara largely ignored. After her mother dies, though, Clare feels driven to discover whether her mother’s stories are true. And really, it is just as well that Clara has something other than just her work to occupy her, since her fiancé Anthony is extremely tied up in his research for a new cancer drug.
“Out of the Shadows” is the second of Rendell’s three books I have read, and I’m sold. I will absolutely be reading her first book, as well as whatever else she comes out with. Although her characters tend to be New York academics, her stories are not derivative , even of one another. In “Out of the Shadows,” Clara is a young woman searching for her identity and a way to connect with her mother and her past. One of my favorite thing about Rendell’s books is that her protagonists’ romantic lives are secondary to the story, they are part of these women’s lives so they must inform the story, but they are not the main focus.
In addition to Clara’s storyline, Rendell also included small snippets of Shelley’s young life, up through her meeting of Shelley. Although I did not find these sections as engaging as Clara’s storyline, they did add a depth to the work as a whole and helped to give a feel for the woman about whom Clara was searching for information. This look at Mary Shelley’s life also gave “Out of the Shadows” more power when it began to explore many of the same themes as did Shelley’s seminal work, “Frankenstein.”
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