She applied the Page 69 Test to Our Endless Numbered Days, her first novel, and reported the following:
Our Endless Numbered Days is the story of Peggy Hillcoat, recently returned to her mother’s house in London, after nine years away. Gradually we learn that when Peggy was eight she was taken by her father to a remote cabin in a European forest where he told her the rest of the world had disappeared.Visit Claire Fuller's website.
The novel’s structure is a dual narrative one, with most chapters looking back at Peggy’s time in the forest, interspersed with chapters in her present day, when she is in London.
Page 69 is part of a London chapter, and a scene where Peggy is trying to build a new relationship with her mother, Ute. They are sitting at the kitchen table and Ute has just made Peggy porridge with water – the only way she will eat it. Neither of them quite know what to make of the other:for the first time since I got home we really looked at each other – my eyes seeing into hers, and hers looking back into mine; both of us trying to work the other out, as if we were new to each other, which we were. And then the moment was gone.The dual narrative structure allowed me to describe some of Peggy’s characteristics without saying at this stage, what had happened to make her this way:
…I just sat, looking down at my bowl again, with my licked clean spoon placed to the side. It too, reminded me of the tidy piles of my belongings taken from my rucksack.Peggy licks her spoon clean even when she is in London where there is plenty of food, because for nearly a decade she didn’t have enough to eat. And even she doesn’t realise that she still likes to line things up – even her cutlery – because of the things her father taught her.
And finally on page 69, there’s mention of Oliver Hannington, an American who plays a pivotal role in the events that unfold.