I'd like to introduce Crossing Washington Square by my sister Girlfriends Cyber Circuit member, Joanne Rendell.
About the book
Some women follow their hearts; others follow their minds. In this “charming, witty, and cerebral” second novel from the acclaimed author of The Professors’ Wives’ Club, we return to Manhattan University, where two strong-willed women are compelled to unite their senses and sensibilities.
Professor Diana Monroe is a highly respected scholar of Sylvia Plath. Serious and aloof, she steadfastly keeps her mind on track. Professor Rachel Grey is young and impulsive, with a penchant for teaching popular women’s fiction like Bridget Jones’ Diary and The Devil Wears Prada, and for wearing her heart on her sleeve.
The two conflicting personalities meet head to heart when Carson McEvoy, a handsome and brilliant professor visiting from Harvard, sets his eyes on both women and creates even more tension between them. Now Diana and Rachel are slated to accompany an undergraduate trip to London, where an almost life-threatening experience with a student celebrity will force them to change their minds and heal their hearts…together.
What the critics are saying
“As readers spend time with these bright and engaging women, Rendell offers an interesting debate about the merits of studying popular fiction in an academic setting.” The Romantic Times
“Rendell’s second novel is thoughtful and open, with plenty of interesting academic debate for truly bookish readers.” Booklist
I asked, Joanne answered
A. What's the scariest thing that's ever happened to you? Bonus question: have you ever used it in a book?
J. Giving birth was pretty darn scary. Of course, it was empowering, amazing, and joyful too, with an incredible outcome (my son). But somewhere right in the middle, when the labor was just so intense, I remembering being utterly frightened. “Am I going to survive this pain?” The panicked question kept going around in my head.
And yes, I did use the experience in my first book, The Professors’ Wives’ Club. I gave birth at home and while I was in labor I watched Terminator movies on a loop (I’m not kidding, you can read about it here on Mothering: http://www.mothering.com/homebirth-terminator). In my book, I have one of the professors’ wives giving birth while watching the same movies!
A. Mystery writers often give their characters an unreasoning fear - and then make them face it. Do you have any phobias, like fear of spiders or enclosed spaces?
J. I don’t like snakes and planes makes me a little uneasy. I’ve therefore vowed never to watch the movie Snakes on a Plane.
A. Do you have a favorite mystery book, author, or movie? J. I’m terrible at “what’s your favorite” questions. Firstly, my memory is hopeless. Secondly, I usually like things for different reasons. However, one mystery movie which sticks out in my mind is Altman’s Gosford Park which I really enjoyed. Also, I always have a place in my heart for Miss Marple. I don’t really remember the stories or much of the content, but just the name “Miss Marple” reminds me of being a kid in England and watching the BBC television series in my PJs!
A. At its heart, every story is a mystery. It asks why someone acts the way they did - or maybe what will happen next. What question does your book ask? J. Crossing Washington Square asks whether two very different people – one led by the mind, the other by her heart – can ever find common ground. The novel also asks a lot of questions about books and literature: what does it mean to be a “good” book or a “trashy” book? Who gets to make those distinctions? Why do books by and about women often get a bad rap? These are all big mysteries which I enjoy grappling with!
A. Is there a mystery in life that you are still trying to figure out?
J. Why is it that the richest 1% of adults in the world own 40% of the planet's wealth while 50% of the world’s population only own 1% of the planet’s wealth? In short, why is it that a handful of people are so very very rich while a vast number of other people are so very very poor? I will probably never figure out this mystery. After all, this is such a beautiful and abundant planet it is hard to think that there should be such disparity!