Man Out of Time
Hachette, $29.99 pb, 291pp, 9780733636349
Stephanie Bishop’s third novel, Man Out of Time, her most mature work to date, echoes Virginia Woolf’s psychological realism and the claustrophobic intensity of Elizabeth Harrower’s The Watch Tower (1966). Indeed, an unkind reviewer might compare Bishop’s latest novel to a subtle iteration of domestic noir, where the great threat is the family unit and its overbearing figurehead, although the protagonist in Bishop’s world oscillates between wanting to escape her oppressor and feeling deeply wedded to him.
The ‘man out of time’ in Bishop’s story is Stella Gilman’s father, Leon, whose mental decline and sectioning in a psychiatric hospital not only limits his ability to function in the world, but has a catastrophic effect on his wife, Frances, and daughter, Stella. We learn of Leon’s battles with mental illness in a series of lengthy flashbacks that make up the majority of the novel, while the present-day narration focuses on Frances and Stella’s attempt to locate Leon, who has been missing for a fortnight.