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Crossing Washington Square

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  175 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
A story of two strong-willed and passionate women who are compelled to unite their senses and sensibilities, from the author of The Professors? Wives? Club.

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 relevant conte
Paperback, 310 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Berkley Books (first published July 23rd 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jane Stewart
Jun 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Interesting characters. Talented author with a good writing style. Good debate about popular fiction vs. classic literature.

The main characters are literature professors. Rachel is 31. Her specialty is contemporary fiction including romance novels and chick lit. She has just been hired to teach at (fictional) Manhattan University. She is frustrated with apathetic students and lack of friendship and respect from her peers (other professors). Rachel broke up with her boyfriend before c
Sep 24, 2009 rated it it was ok
In a nutshell:
Established professor, Diane Monroe and younger ‘rising star’ professor Rachel Grey, find themselves in a territorial battle, especially as they hold opposing views on the place of women’s fiction / chick lit in the pedagogical canon. Both of them are also in complicated romantic entanglements as well. Things come to a head when they both accompany a study abroad group to London.

I was interested in this book because I worked in higher education (specifically student affair
Aug 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2009
This second novel by Joanne Rendell, Crossing Washington Square, was such an enjoyable and smart read. I flew through the book, and it truly reminded me of why I love contemporary women's fiction so much! It did this not just because I loved this book itself but also because of the interesting discussions about contemporary fiction that take place within the story.

The two main characters are each female literature professors, at the fictitious Manhattan U, who are on opposite ends of the literar
Dec 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
Let me say how disappointed I was in this book. First of all, I was interested to read about two women working in academia at fictional Manhattan U. The main protagonist, Rachel, is a new Assistant Professor who focuses on literature and how chick lit in today's culture is actually hidden scholarship. Sure, ummm ok. I read chick-lit every once in a while, but I think that assumption is a stretch. Then there is Diana who is from England, is from a poor yet hard-working back ground, and is extreme ...more
Mar 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 Manhatta
Sep 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
I heard about this book during Book Blogger Appreciation Week and it sounded right up my alley. I’ve always been discouraged by the dismissal of chick lit as “real literature” and think it has certain merit in the world of fiction.

Crossing Washington Square makes a lot of really great points about the misconceptions about chick lit and the prejudices people have when they see you reading it. However, by about halfway through I was just like “I get it. Enough already!” The “moral” is dragged out
Oct 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
I enjoyed this book. It's a very comforting read. Rendell's new approach to chick lit to focus on a relationship between two women is very refreshing. She uses a rather standard romance structure of "oil and water" characters and applies it to a friendship between two women. The relationships they have with their men takes a back seat.
Sandy Forman-Johnson
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
slow in the beginning but then it started to move
Sep 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Joanne Rendell, author of The Professors' Wives Club takes readers back to the fictional university of Manhattan U in her second novel Crossing Washington Square. This is not a sequel but a stand alone novel that follows two strong, independent and highly different professors, Rachel and Diana. Diana is highly respected, serious, and gives off an air of superiority but poise and grace to those around her. Her main scholarly interest is in Sylvia Path's writings and she has a comfort and ease wit ...more
Elizabeth Sulzby
Apr 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, re-reading
The premise of the book is good. A tenured female English professor dislikes a new untenured, tenure track female English professor. Current theories of feminism, literary theory, genderism, class distinctions are mentioned as important to the young woman. Both have men problems and some of these overlap with an unbelievably handsome sexy visiting professor from Harvard (which the author says is a type she has never met). Said hunk has affairs with tons of women but important to this book is his ...more
Feb 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, own
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011
I expected to like this more because it's set in an academic environment, but it's a very cliche romance - I can't tell if that's its point because one of the two female professors argues that contemporary popular fiction is legitimate literature. The other one despises Harlequin romances for being full of adverbs, yet the author describes her characters as "devilishly handsome" and "breathtakingly beautiful." Characters who are devilishly and/or breathtakingly attractive aren't all that interes ...more
Feb 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
she was trying a little too hard. wanted to make the point that the canon is not the only thing we should read & that's there's merit in chick lit & even romance novels. i agree w/the premise (well, i think romance novels are like mocha flavor, just not for me & very addicting). but her story had too many trite coincidences & u could see how it would end up coming a mile away. that's like the last several books i have read. i get mad when they don't end like i want (Jodi Picoult) ...more
Jackie Jameson
Dec 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I gave this novel 5 stars because it was so much more than a typical chick lit novel. I was really impressed by references to Jane Austen, the Howard Duffy lobotomy, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, and the novel "The Bell Jar." The author has a PHD in literature and it shows, but incorporates all the charm of a modern day "Bridget Jones Diary". That accomplishment in and of itself is the central theme of the novel, and how women should and can work together and support each other in a male dominat ...more
Nov 22, 2009 rated it it was ok
Meh. It was ok, but I almost feel like the writing was intentionally less than it could have been in an effort to not be "literature." There is so much focus on "literature" v. mass market fiction that it could go either way - if it wasn't intentional then it just wasn't very well-written. (Or perhaps if it had had more editing.) I don't know, I'm neither a writer, nor an editor. The writing just wasn't that good.
Jul 12, 2010 rated it liked it
Funny Sense and Sensibility meeting of a emotional young professor of "contemporary women's fiction" (chick lit) and a overly controlled Sylvia Plath scholar. Author was aiming for a light enjoyable overview of both types of literature so the actual romance part was a little unsatisfying. Fun look at the state of academia though.
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: chick-lit
This book started off strong, but lost momentum for me about halfway through. I think the subplot with the famous twins was supposed to advance the plot, but it really distracted from the two main characters.
May 24, 2011 rated it did not like it
I'm not one of those people who read books and try to figure out what's going to happen; I like to just let it unfold. This particular book was just way too obvious. Pretty cheesy too. It was basically a harlequin novel thinly veiled as modern women's fiction, but just not what I'm into.
Mar 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2010
I was disappointed with this one. I thought it was going to be more than a "romance." While there was a little twist to the usual via the intellectual snobbery of academia angle, it was not really enough to make this other than a run of the mill love story.
Apr 26, 2010 rated it did not like it
This was one of the most boring books I have ever read. So dull. If I had anything better to do, I would have done it.
Nov 21, 2014 rated it liked it
A total delightful read - I quite enjoyed this book
Mar 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: austen-pastiche
Two clashing English professors with very different ideas about literature and a very loose homage to Sense and Sensibility don't add up to a satisfying read.
Oct 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
This was a quick read and a fun take on academic life--David LOdge does it infinitly better though.
Mar 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic read. A rare accurate portrayal of females in academia complete with strengths and insecurities. Nice to see women over 30 in America not just defined as parents too.
Apr 27, 2010 rated it liked it
I read this book on a flight from DC to London--definitely a good one for the plane!
Leah Eggleston Krygowski
Aug 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Check out my review of "Crossing Washington Square" at
Dec 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
The story was okay. I did like reading about females in academia, so I could relate. I also liked the NYC setting.
Tracy Gier
rated it liked it
Jul 15, 2012
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Joanne Rendell was born and raised in the UK. After completing a PhD in English Literature (at the University of Sheffield), she moved to New York to be with her husband, a professor at NYU. Her debut novel "The Professors' Wives' Club" will be released this September ('08) by New American Library/Penguin. Her second novel comes out in 2009.
More about Joanne Rendell

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