Out of the Shadows
Let’s just get this out of the way: I hated this book. I was actually excited to review it, because the plot sounded interesting. Hah! This book was annoying to me on so many levels, and pushed a lot of hot button issues. Add the heavy-handed foreshadowing (that our PhD heroine couldn’t recognize) to the fact that I was bored and I simply can’t recommend the book.
The story shifts back and forth between Clara Fitzgerald, a professor of the history of science in New York, and the author Mary Shelley.
Clara has been engaged to Anthony, a superstar genetic research scientist for years. She’s trailed Anthony for seven years, getting jobs at prestigious university after prestigious university, as Anthony switches universities for better and better positions. And honestly, it boggles the mind how Clara is able to land jobs so easily in all these prestigious universities. Academic jobs, even at lower tier universities, are hard to come by.
Clara’s mother told her that they were related to Mary Shelley and, once her mother died, Clara began a quest to prove it. In the process, she becomes friends with an elderly, dying woman who’s a noted Shelley scholar. Through this woman, Clara meets Daniel, who serves as a massage therapist and caregiver to the dying woman.
Clara is intrigued with Daniel, for among other things, he has very large hands. She resists her growing attraction, as she’s still living with Anthony. Why, I don’t have a clue, because there was nothing good about Anthony and Clara’s relationship.
Anthony spends all of his time in his lab. Clara is supposedly bright, but while I could see early on where the author was going with Anthony, Clara was oblivious to the very obvious, heavy-handed signs.
For the majority of the book, Clara is by herself thinking about different problems. For this to be successful, I had to like Clara. I didn’t. I also didn’t like her sister, really hated Anthony, and Daniel is on page so little it’s hard to know why Clara was interested in him, other than that he wasn’t Anthony.
I found a lot of the book very unpleasant. Clara and her sister Maxie constantly disappoint each other; Anthony was never there for Clara, and was clearly up to something.
I don’t know anything about Mary Shelley, other than that she wrote Frankenstein, so have no idea how close to reality her sections are. While I enjoyed the Shelley sections more than those devoted to Clara, they were rather sketchy.
The dialogue is minimal, and the few extended passages sound more like speeches about the evils of scientific research than real conversations.
I’ve plodded away at this book for months because I couldn’t stand to read more than a few pages at a time. So why not give it an F? Well, the prose didn’t suck, and the Shelley sections were nowhere near as annoying as the Clara sections.
If you like trite descriptions of evil scientists, don’t mind heavy-handed clues, and enjoy reading about a heroine who puts up with an obvious jerk for most of the book, then this may be just the book for you. For me, I’m glad I finally managed to finish so I can move on to more enjoyable reads.