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Reviewed by Ila Selwyn 1/08/14
Out of the SHADE
by Thea Gilich
The cover of a woman gazing through a window at a sunrise across the sea is enticing.
Her body is in shade and it is clear she wants to come out of the shadows and become herself.
I found the novel compelling to read and highly recommend it. Within the first few paragraphs I was already seeing things through Manda’s eyes as she began to sketch. I was hooked on her story when she came home to find her husband had burned all her sketches. That was the moment when I realised this wasn’t just a novel for older women, as I originally felt. Manda’s story will speak to any woman of any age who is boxed in by circumstances, either of her own making or made by someone else.
Manda’s story is uplifting. In spite of a husband who treats her as someone to cook and clean for him, not as an equal partner; in spite of being expected to look after their grandchildren for her own fulfilment; in spite of her Dally background and Catholic faith, which frowns on affairs and divorces, though will offer repentance; in spite of the church still refusing a divorced person the right to remarry; Manda has the courage to go on a journey to find herself.
The only aspect I found slightly jarring is the narrow view of a woman being a man’s property, giving him the right to sex.
‘What Manda thought of as her shame, Ivy would consider, as Manda once had, a husband’s sacred right.’
But as the marital rape exemption wasn’t abolished in New Zealand until 1985, many who grew up before that time, would still consider a husband had the right, particularly if the church reinforced that view.