He applied the Page 69 Test to his latest novel, Bleeding Heart Square, winner of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger Award, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Bleeding Heart Square begins with a woman, Lydia Langstone, returning to the rooms she shares with her father. It’s London, 1934, and she’s having a hard time learning how to be poor, as she’s never had to be that before. Her father tries to persuade her to return to her husband Marcus, from whom she’s just run away. She’s left because he hit her. Her father argues that though the violence is regrettable, she can’t throw away an entire marriage because of it. These things happen, he says.Watch the Bleeding Heart Square video trailer.
‘Only if you let them, Lydia thought.’
Lydia is the novel’s central character, and this page reveals not only what’s motivating her - her urgent need for independence after the breakdown of her marriage, but also one of the book’s themes - the role of women in the 1930s. Lydia’s background is upper-class but that’s not much help when your marriage is in ruins and you have neither an income of your own to fall back on nor the sort of education that might help you earn your own living. Worst of all, perhaps, she lives in a historical context where domestic violence is not unusual: hitting your wife isn’t encouraged, but it’s not automatically and absolutely condemned, either.
Interwoven with Lydia’s story is another narrative strand - the disappearance and possible murder of a wealthy spinster who once owned the house in Bleeding Heart Square. Once again, it’s about a women as victim. But there’s a third element, which doesn’t appear even by implication on page 69 - the rise of the British Union of Fascists, of which Marcus is a member.
Read an excerpt from Bleeding Heart Square, and learn more about the book and author at Andrew Taylor's website.
Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.