She applied the Page 69 Test to Murder at Barclay Meadow, her first novel, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Murder at Barclay Meadow passes the test. Let me set the scene and follow with an excerpt.Visit Wendy Sand Eckel's website and Facebook page.
Rosalie Hart’s world has been upended. After her husband confesses to an affair, she exiles herself to her late aunt’s farmhouse on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. With its fields untended and the house itself in disrepair, Barclay Meadow couldn’t be more different from the tidy D.C. suburb Rosalie used to call home. Just when she is convinced things couldn’t get any worse, she finds a body floating in her marsh grasses.
On page 69 Rosalie is meeting a new acquaintance for lunch.“I see a wedding ring but you haven’t mentioned a husband.”
I stuffed my hands in my lap. I still wasn’t accustomed to admitting the truth about my marital status. Saying I was getting divorced felt like wearing ill-fitting shoes––it rubbed and squeezed and pinched at my heart. “He was having an affair. He still is,” I added. “I moved out about a nanosecond after he confessed.”
“So…” She folded her hands over the menu. “Dish––what happened?”
“Mid-life crisis,” she pronounced and leaned back in her chair. “Let me guess, he’s around forty?”
“How old is Rebecca?”
“Do I have to tell you?” I sipped my water. “Early thirties. And she weighs about thirty pounds, too.”
“Don’t do that.” Rhonda glanced around for the waitress, impatience pursing her lips.
“Compare yourself to her. You’re not the reason he strayed.”
“How could you know that?”
“It’s totally and completely about him. You could be Angelina Jolie and he still would have had the affair.”
I sat back and shook my head. “We both know that’s not true.”
“Oh yes it is.” She pulled a piece of bread from a basket and ripped it in two. “Let me guess, he’s successful? Makes a lot of cash?”
“So here’s the deal. The old 4 – 0 comes around and he starts thinking, am I only going to have sex with the same woman for the rest of my life? And here I am in my prime, good-looking, lots of dough. So he takes it all out for a test drive.” She buttered the bread.
“That all sounds so trite.”
“Honey, you aren’t the first chick this has happened to.”
I watched as the waitress set two sweating martinis on the table. Rhonda’s comments were getting under my skin. Seeing Ed’s actions as a mid-life crisis seemed to trivialize our entire marriage. I picked up the glass and took a swig of vodka. Whoa, I thought. So that’s what a martini tastes like.
Rhonda was eyeing me. “Divorce isn’t so bad, Rosalie. It’s not the end of the world.”
“Then why does it feel like it?” My throat was tight from the alcohol.
She slid an olive off a hot pink plastic sword with her teeth. “Look at the bright side––being a divorcee is sort of exotic. You get to say dishy things like my first husband. And no more dirty underwear on the bathroom floor, snoring in the middle of the night.”
“Ed never did those things. He’s neat as a pin.”
“So…” she said, eyebrows raised. “Would you take him back?”
My fingers fluttered over my spoon. I avoided her eyes, glancing around at the other patrons. After a deep breath I said, “Yes.” I centered my glass on the small napkin. I looked up at her. “How desperate do I sound?”
“You’re practically an invertebrate.