Crossing Washington Square by Joanne Rendell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A hoot! Really well-written, funny, with digs at academe, and three love stories, including the awkward relationship between two very different but similarly-vulnerable women.
The premise of the novel highlights one of my soapbox issues: intellectual snobbery, especially at the expense of scholars (and ordinary folks) who take popular culture seriously. Rachel is a young scholar whose unexpected bestseller on popular women's fiction has earned her an invitation to teach at a prestigious Manhattan college. (Think Camille Paglia, younger and cuter, and definitely less frenetic.) Diana is a Plath scholar whose disdain for Rachel's specialty extends to Rachel herself.
Throw in celebrity twins, a Dylan Thomas-Ted Hughes womanizer, a trip to London, and truly-evocative descriptions of interiors (apartments, an airplane, an academic conference room) that utterly remove the distance between reader and story, and you have a very enjoyable read, indeed!
(My only regret? Alas, Rachel's book is not, ahem, in print. I'm sure I'd love it.)
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