The Professors' Wives' Club by Joanne Rendell
Book Description: Nestled among Manhattan U’s faculty housing, there is a garden where four women will meet—each with a scandalous secret that could upset their lives, destroy their families, and rock the prestigious university to its very core.With its shady maple trees, elegant iron gate, and high fence laced with honeysuckle, Manhattan U's garden offers faculty wives Mary, Sofia, Ashleigh, and Hannah a much-needed refuge. For Mary, the garden is an escape from abuse. For Sofia, it offers solace as she considers trading in her diaper bag for a briefcase. Then there’s Ashleigh, who wonders if she should tell her conservative father something that might well give him another heart attack. And last is Hannah, who rues jeopardizing her lukewarm marriage for one passionate night. As Mary’s husband, the power-hungry dean, makes plans to demolish this beloved garden, these four women will discover a surprising secret about a lost Edgar Allan Poe manuscript—and realize they must find the courage to stand up for their passions, dreams, and desires.
I was thrilled when Joanne Rendell contacted me to read and review her new book which was just published this month. I jumped at the chance as I had an instinct that I would like the book. I am a fan of women's contemporary literary fiction and to me, this book fits the bill spot on. My instincts were correct and I have to say that I loved this book!
As the wife of a NYU Professor Joanne is a Professors wife in real life. She lives with her family and is a faculty fellow in residence in a dorm at NYU. She has real life experiences that immerse her in the life of academia. She also has a PhD in English Literature which is evident in her strong writing and the literary thread the book takes.
This is a wonderful debut novel that is a richly woven story about a group of four very different women who live in faculty housing and become friends through their love of the university garden. The garden is to be demolished in favor of a parking garage. Two of the women stand out more in the story for different reasons. Mary, a professor herself, hides a secret and is also married to the evil dean who is behind the focus to tear down the garden for his own hidden agenda. Sofia the mother of young children and the strength and catalyst that leads the group. Then, there are Ashleigh and Hanna strong characters but not the leaders that Mary and Sofia are in the book. Hanna is a wife, former model and now artist and MFA student who deals with her own secrets and battles. Ashleigh is a lawyer and girlfriend to Sam who is also a professor.
She has her own secrets and family issues to resolve. They band together to protest the destruction of the garden and their lives are never the same. There is a strong literary thread that is woven into the book related to Edgar Allen Poe which is worked through the storyline to the end where all is revealed.
To me, this was a story about the power of female friendships and standing up for what you believe. I highly recommend it and look forward to Joanne Rendell's next book which is to be published in 2009!