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Review: Out of the Shadows

September 20, 2010

Clara Fitzgerald’s mother was convinced that they are related to Frankenstein author, Mary Shelley.  Clara doesn’t pay that much attention to it, though, until her mother passes away.  Feeling adrift and longing for a connection with her mother, Clara almost becomes obsessed with the late author.   Clara’s fiance, Anthony, who is an up and coming scientist, suggests that they might be able to confirm or deny her mother’s belief with a new DNA test performed on a lock of Shelley’s hair.

In the meantime, Anthony is spending too much time in the lab because a drug he’s working on is getting ready to go into the testing phase,  Clara’s relationship with her sister Maxie has become strained, and Clara has befriended Mary Shelley scholar Kay McNally.   While researching Mary Shelley, Clara stumbles across some information that makes her question her relationship with Anthony and reassess what’s important to her.

There is a lot going on in Out of the Shadows, by Joanne Rendell, but the plot is easy to follow and keep track of.  Clara’s present day story is interspersed with brief vignettes from Mary Shelley’s life.  I was quickly drawn into this book, but have to admit that I enjoyed Clara’s story more than Mary Shelley’s.  I thought Clara was a fantastic character – she’s trying to figure out her place in life after the death of her beloved mother.  Her fiance is distant and aloof but she believes in the commitment they’ve made, so she makes sacrifices for his career – now she’s wondering if she’s made the right choice.

Out of the Shadows offers so much to the reader – a peak into higher education, a mystery, and the exploration of relationships, both Clara’s and Mary Shelley’s.  I liked the book a lot, but I didn’t love it, because I was just a little bit let down by the ending.  I really appreciated Rendell’s writing and I thought the book had some great twists and turns that kept me interested throughout, only to end on a rather predictable note.  This was my first experience with Rendell’s work, and I enjoyed it enough to want to read her previous books.

Review copy provided by Penguin Books.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
41 Comments leave one →
  1. givingreadingachance permalink
    September 20, 2010 5:53 am

    Sounds like a good book. Too bad that the ending was not as good as the rest of the book!
    But I am intrigued by the plot.

  2. September 20, 2010 6:11 am

    I haven’t heard about this author, or this book. Thanks for the review.

  3. September 20, 2010 7:20 am

    I love the premise–it sounds interesting to have a modern day character interspersed with Mary Shelley.

  4. September 20, 2010 7:28 am

    Loved the cover, but I have to admit the premise does not excite me much. Glad you enjoyed it though even though the ending was a let down.

  5. September 20, 2010 7:39 am

    Sometimes endings do let us down. Especially if we expecting much more!

  6. September 20, 2010 7:43 am

    I also noticed the cover. Sounds like a unique book!

  7. September 20, 2010 7:44 am

    I just got a copy of this and can’t wait to read it. I enjoy Joanne’s writing and have read her other two novels.

  8. September 20, 2010 7:51 am

    I have one of her books on the TBR shelf and look forward to reading it (I remember Bonnie’s great review). I’m not sure about this one though.

  9. September 20, 2010 7:52 am

    I was intrigued by the whole Mary Shelley connection when I heard about this book. It’s on my list to read soon.

  10. September 20, 2010 8:10 am

    I’m fascinated! It’s not always you see a writer featured in another book. Though the cover put me off, the synopsis sounds interesting!

  11. September 20, 2010 8:27 am

    You know the kiss of death for me is a predictable ending. But this one does have an interesting concept.

  12. September 20, 2010 8:38 am

    This sounds absolutely fantastic!! I adore Mary Shelley as well, so this sounds like a fun read!

  13. September 20, 2010 9:02 am

    I did like this book, but I can understand your feelings on the ending. Her second, Crossing Washington Square, is very, very good – you should give that one a try!

  14. September 20, 2010 9:24 am

    Interesting how often DNA is appearing in novels these days. It’s always taking a chance to put something like that in a book -think of all the mysteries with people trying to find a phone booth!

  15. September 20, 2010 9:38 am

    I have been very curious about this book, and had been wondering how it manages to juggle all it’s components. It sounds as though some parts were more pleasing than others to you. I really think that this is a book I would enjoy, so onto the list it goes! I am glad that you liked it and that it made you want to explore the author’s back list!

  16. September 20, 2010 9:48 am

    That definitely sounds like a lot going on in one book. Too bad about the predictability.

  17. September 20, 2010 10:53 am

    Ooo this sounds fantastic and just what I am in the mood for, even if it is a little predictable! Sometimes that’s just what this poor, frazzled brain needs. 😉 I better go see if the library has it!

  18. September 20, 2010 11:08 am

    Interesting! I’m kinda reading Frankenstein right now but I only could force myself to chapter four so far.

  19. September 20, 2010 11:32 am

    This one is completely new to me.

  20. September 20, 2010 11:40 am

    Mary Shelley was totally fascinating, so that is disappointing that this didn’t shine through in the story. It is really an exciting premise to imagine being related to her! One excellent book about those romantic poets and authors that all hung out together is called Passion, which I read before blogging but Nymeth just reviewed. It is mind-blowing excellent.

  21. September 20, 2010 12:00 pm

    A very honest review. The plot and the intermixing of the two threads is interesting. It’s too bad the ending let you down, but it’s telling that you still liked it enough that you’d read others by Rendell.


  22. September 20, 2010 12:00 pm

    Sounds interesting, there is something there that calls to me, can’t say what.

  23. September 20, 2010 12:04 pm

    I would definitely recommend Crossing Washington Square… that was my favorite and it brought up some interesting points about women’s fiction!

  24. September 20, 2010 12:08 pm

    I read one of her earlier books and enjoyed it. Might have to give this one a shot!

  25. September 20, 2010 12:28 pm

    The ending can really break a story.

    Everyone did very well in Bermuda, haven’t heard of any roof issues, mainly boats and lots of them, some flooding issues.

    Thanks for the best wishes.

    Oh, I really want to read Bride Collector – from your Mailbox post.

  26. September 20, 2010 12:42 pm

    This is a new book to me. It sounds good, as if you really enjoyed the author’s writing.

  27. September 20, 2010 1:14 pm

    This book sounds really interesting & I am already captivated by Clara from your description of her. But it really bothers me when the ending of a good book is a let down. It changes my feelings about the book. Still, I think this is a book I’d like to read & see what I think. Thank you for your honest & detailed review, Kathy, it was great :o)

    ~ Amy

  28. September 20, 2010 1:23 pm

    This book does sound like it has a really interesting premise! I hate it when the ending doesn’t quite live up to expectations though.

  29. September 20, 2010 1:29 pm

    I just love anything like this. I will add to my list as I love anything to do with Frankenstein.

  30. September 20, 2010 1:37 pm

    Interesting how novels are increasingly linked to other novels and characters. I’m not sure a link to Frankenstein is for me.

  31. September 20, 2010 2:30 pm

    The Mary Shelley connection has me interested. Although it’s a shame the ending is a little bit of a letdown.

  32. September 20, 2010 3:15 pm

    I have read so much about this book and I still hesitate about reading it…your lovely review has helped…

  33. September 20, 2010 8:53 pm

    I’m intrigued by the blending of Clara and Mary Shelley’s lives…sounds like one I would certainly give a try!

  34. jenners26 permalink
    September 20, 2010 9:05 pm

    It just sounds like a strange thing to be focused on!

  35. September 21, 2010 8:34 am

    The Shelley connection interests me, but perhaps not quite enough. I’ll keep my eye on this author (maybe start with Crossing Washington Sq)

  36. stacybuckeye permalink
    September 21, 2010 10:26 am

    This does look interesting. I like Clara’s story. I’ll have to look for this one.

  37. September 21, 2010 10:39 am

    Interesting concept for a story. I learned a bit about Shelly’s life from a podcast, so this book is definitely going on my list. Blending the two lives/stories together…I like that kind of thing.
    Thanks Kathy 🙂

  38. September 21, 2010 12:55 pm

    This is the first I’ve heard of this book, and I’m intrigued. Too bad the ending was predictable and disappointing. I still might give it a try, though, once I tame my TBR tower.

  39. September 21, 2010 5:19 pm

    It sounds interesting, but not one that I would rush out to read.

  40. September 21, 2010 5:32 pm

    Jen (Devourer of Books) mentioned that you really liked this one. I am reading Frankenstein for the 2nd time and this seems like it would be a nice supplement. Sounds fantastic.

  41. September 28, 2010 11:39 am

    Sounds great, thanks!

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