Sunday, March 4, 2007

"Beyond the Blue"

Andrea MacPherson’s fiction and poetry have been widely published in Canadian and international magazines. Her first novel, When She Was Electric,was published in 2003.

Beyond the Blue
is her fourth book and second novel.

Andrea put her new novel to the "page 69 test" and reported the following:
I was immediately intrigued by the concept of the Page 69 Theory. When I am browsing in a bookstore, I have often been known to flip to a random page – quite possibly page 69 on some occasions – and decide from that page if it is indeed a book that I might enjoy. What am I looking for? Voice, tone, use of language, a glimpse of an interesting character. But I had never tried it with my own novels.

I flipped to page 69 with some trepidation – would I want to read my own words? Would I appreciate in the novel the things I look for in other works? With relief, I discovered that, yes, my novel would pass my own bookstore-flip test.

Beyond the Blue centres around the lives of four women in 1918, Scotland, and the reader meets all four of them on page 69. The novel is concerned with the humanity of these characters, their hopes and dreams, both grand and intimately introspective: from how to escape a mill town existence to how to understand a hazy memory of a tragedy in the past. On this page, readers are introduced to many of the very secrets that populate the book: Wallis’ relationships, Caro’s determination to change her fate, Imogen’s complicity in it all, and the notion of faith, in its many incarnations:

The rosary, then, had nothing to do with faith. Just a small, childish act that she believed would afford her some comfort or love. The feeling of Rosemary against her chest, the possibility that Paddy might have once touched the beads. His long, scarred fingers.

Wallis says nothing, but lets John believe she is honest, uncomplicated. It is the first in a series of lies she believes to be kind.

Had it been another day, another fifteen minutes later, she would not have met John with his Hennessey eyes. She would never have walked into St. Mary’s Lochee, would not have been able to feel this tangible link to the past, to small knees bending as they walked up the steps to another church. She realizes the delicate balance of her life with awe.

“Shall we go down to the Tay?” In the flat, Caro thinks they are slowly suffocating from Morag’s incessant smoking and Wallis’s faraway eyes.

Imogen is up in an instant, tucking her arms into a coat and her feet into her black boots. Caro follows quickly behind her, drawn into Imogen’s enthusiasm.

“Back for tea?” Morag asks. She is not suspicious, not concerned because of the inclusion of Imogen. Caro relaxes. Imogen still means innocence, despite everything.

Read an excerpt from Beyond the Blue.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Series.