Friday, March 2, 2007

"Testing Kate"

Testing Kate is Whitney Gaskell's fourth novel.

She applied the "page 69 test" to the book and reported the following:
On page 69 of Testing Kate, Kate – a first year law student at Tulane – is in the middle of a job interview with renowned historian, Armstrong Strong. Kate’s been feeling suffocated in the microcosm of law school, and is hoping that the part time job will give her an outlet.

Armstrong, however, turns out to be quite a bit different from what Kate had expected. Page 69 begins with Armstrong apologizing for his home’s whorehouse d├ęcor, as he inherited the garish decorations along with the house.

“I just moved in last month, so haven’t had a chance to de-chintz and de-pouf most of it. Maybe that’s something you can help me with.”

“Sure,” I said gamely, wondering if this meant that I had the job ... and if he really expected me to know how to decorate.

“Let’s go back to the library. It’s the only room in the house that I can sit in without becoming constipated,” Armstrong said. He crooked his arm at me in a courtly gesture. “Shall we?”

Instead of interviewing Kate, Armstrong pours them each a drink and treats the visit as if it’s a social call, regaling Kate with the history of the house, how his parents came to buy it, and the restoration they enthusiastically undertook. Armstrong is entertaining, but the interview is so unorthodox that Kate feels wrong-footed.

“Aren’t you going to interview me?” I finally ask.

Armstrong looked surprised. “For what?” he asked.

“The job. I thought you were looking for a research assistant,” I said.

“Oh, that. The job is yours,” Armstrong said, waving his hand as thought it were all a foregone conclusion. “You’re the only one who responded to my advertisement.”

I think page 69 is representative of the book – the light banter and humor are certainly present throughout the novel. Armstrong is a relatively minor character, although he does serve as a mentor to Kate as several pivotal points in the plot. I think that readers will find the scene engaging, since Armstrong has proved to be a popular character. I’ve had several readers tell me they wish there had been more Armstrong in the book!
Read an excerpt from Testing Kate.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Series.