Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"The Rose Variations"

Marisha Chamberlain is a novelist, playwright, poet and librettist. Her plays have been staged all over the world: in South Africa, Germany, Australia, Turkey, Britain and Canada as well as in the United States.

She applied the Page 69 Test to The Rose Variations, her first novel, and reported the following:
On page 69 of my novel, The Rose Variations, protagonist Rose MacGregor is up in the night with her best friend, Ursula. Rose needs to talk. She’s just had an abortion and is walloped by the emotional aftereffects. But Ursula, an exhausted doctor in training, in spite of her deep bond with Rose, keeps falling asleep as Rose tries to talk to her.

Rose told her to snuggle down under the covers. She needed sleep. The story could wait.

“No. Tell me now.” Ursula got up and walked to one of the long windows and stood looking out at the hard winter sky. It was one of her most endearing traits—she could look away and yet concentrate all the warmth of her listening, and thus allow Rose to unwrap slowly whatever it was that needed telling.

Leaning against the window, however, Ursula gave a sudden jerk and started in again, mid-sentence about the triage, how blood had sprayed the team and she hadn't minded, how she, as leader, had shouted orders and they'd got the job done. She'd been good at it—really good, abso-fucking-lutely a performer. She turned and regarded Rose with puzzlement. “I'm a monster,” she said. “You had an abortion. Tell me.”

“I am.”

Ursula dug her knuckles into her forehead.

Ursula’s an apprentice healer, but she’s so carried away with her bloody initiation into the rites of healing, that she can’t hear her best friend’s woundedness. It’s a keenly miserable, unfunny moment in a novel that elsewhere has large measures of humor and joy. But in a way it’s representative of my deepest intentions as a novelist. I read and write fiction to find out the truth. And the truth often resides where pain is.
Read an excerpt from The Rose Variations, and learn more about the author and her work at Marisha Chamberlain's website.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue