Wednesday, October 1, 2008

"The Professors' Wives' Club"

Joanne Rendell was born and raised in the UK. After completing a PhD in English Literature, she moved to the States to be with her husband, a professor at NYU. She now lives in a student dorm in New York City with her family.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her debut novel, The Professors' Wives' Club, and reported the following:
The Professors’ Wives’ Club tells the story of four women doing battle with a ruthless dean at the fictitious Manhattan University. The power-hungry dean is all set to bulldoze a beautiful faculty garden. What he hasn’t bargained for is the guts and will of four professors’ wives who are determined to halt his demolition plans and save the garden which has become their meeting place and refuge.

One of the four women, Mary, is a professor at the university like her husband. She’s an acclaimed novelist and teaches creative writing. On p. 69 we find her in class with her students. She is a competent and beloved instructor, yet this class has been awkward to teach. One of her students has written a short story about domestic abuse and what no one knows is that Mary herself has often felt the rage of her husband’s fist against her skin. Her husband is Jack Havemeyer, the dean who plans to destroy the garden.

The class has been a struggle, but when one of her students suggests that victim’s of abuse should just leave, Mary gets fired up.

“Leaving is tough,” Mary continued, looking around at the class. “Finding a new job, a new place to live, a new community. It all takes time and” – she blinked for a second – “courage.”

As Mary says these words, she remembers that she has all her plans in place to leave her husband. She has a new job in California lined up and air tickets hidden in her underwear drawer. This thought gives her the confidence to go on with the class.

“Mary cleared her throat and began, ‘If you all look back at the story, you’ll see that Chrissie does capture these difficulties and contradictions, and her depictions of the abuse is, in fact, very believable. For instance, if we turn to page three…’”
Learn more about the book and author at Joanne Rendell's website, blog, and MySpace page.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue