She applied the “Page 69 Test” to her new novel, Bought, and reported the following:
I have to admit that putting Bought to the Page 69 Test was a bit unnerving at first, because the page happened to fall on one of those scenes that I rewrote endlessly in an attempt to make it work and I still wasn’t that happy with in the end. It focuses on the protagonist, Emma (a journalist temporarily posing as a kept-woman-in-training) being schooled by a professional kept woman on how to take the expensive handbags male clients provide and return them at Bloomingdale’s.Read the first chapter of Bought, and learn more about the book and author at Anna David's website and blog, and at the Bought website.
And then I got to the last sentence of the page, where Emma stares “at the pile of bags, not quite able to ask Amanda why converting goods into cash is any different than simply accepting money in the first place.” And I thought, Ah, ha! That actually is representative of exactly what the book is about.
While Bought, on the surface, is a glitzy tale of Hollywood excess which asks unpleasant questions about how all women use their sexuality to get what they want, the underlying theme for me has always been about the difference between who we are and who we look like we are, and the little lies we tell ourselves in order to construct those false images.
The “prostitutes” in the book get quote marks around their profession because they don’t consider themselves prostitutes: they sleep with men in exchange for gifts or to have expenses covered and because cash never (or rarely) crosses their hands, they staunchly insist that what they’re doing is wholly different from the activities of the “whores” they so deride.
But it’s the notion of the image we construct of ourselves that’s most fascinating to me. The main prostitute Bought focuses on is Jessica, a worldly, well-educated, cultivated, impossibly put-together, and controlling diva who looks like she’s got everything – and everyone – under her control but who’s actually teetering on the edge of emotional, spiritual and literal collapse with every breath she takes.
After living in Hollywood for so long – and spending many of those years interviewing celebrities – I became more and more interested in the false selves people craft and manipulate and how easy it is to get others to buy into and believe them. And celebrities certainly aren’t the only ones doing this: I know that it’s when I’m feeling the most insecure that I’ll often act the most brazen, and when I look like I most have it together professionally is often when I’m the least centered because I’ve been focusing all my energy on my external self.
Emma’s thought – that, essentially, returning expensive bags at Bloomingdale’s is the same damn thing as just taking money in the first place – is the first time she notices one of these girls lying to herself in order to justify her actions, and then using that lie to build a false image. And Emma’s journey in the book is really about discovering just how many of these lies she’s bought into her whole life. Page 69 is actually – rather amazingly -- the beginning of her ultimate conclusion.
Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.