In Joanne Rendell's debut novel, The Professors' Wives' Club, she explores the relationships between four distinct women and the garden that bonds them.
The Professors' Wives' Club takes place on the fictitious campus of Manhattan University. The reader is introduced to four women, in different stages of their lives, who meet and eventually form a treasured friendship. First there's Mary. She's married to Jack, the dean of Manhattan U and is also an English professor. She visits the garden as an escape from Jack's verbal and physical abuse. Next is Sofia. She's mother to Gracie and soon gives birth to Edgar. She's wife to Tom, an English Professor and a colleague of Mary's. Prior to getting married, Sofia was a top Hollywood agent. Third is Ashleigh. She's a lawyer in her family's law firm. She works hard and doesn't want any special treatment as her favorite uncle is one of the partners of the firm. She has a difficult relationship with her father, never feeling she's good enough for him. She's hiding a big secret from her parents and wants to come clean, however when he suffers a heart attack, she thinks remaining silent will be for the best...for him anyway. And finally there's Hannah. A beautiful model turned MFA grad student. Hannah is married to Michael but realizes she loves her in-laws more. Hannah does the one thing she never thought she'd ever do which causes her to rethink her marriage.
The story centers around the friendship that is formed by these four women. They learn to trust and depend on each other to survive their current situation. Together they protest against the destruction of the garden. Jack wants to tear it down in order to build a parking lot. But when the ladies discover the true motivation for tearing down the garden, they will stop at nothing to make sure it doesn't happen. As they come together to stop Jack, they find the strength to deal with their own problems.
The author's second book, Crossing Washington Square also takes place at Manhattan University. I'm looking forward to reading this novel as well. I wouldn't mind if the author brings back these four characters in this or future novels.
Year Published: 2008
Genre: Women's Fiction