Thursday, October 25, 2007

"Little Face"

Sophie Hannah is a bestselling poet and novelist who regularly performs her work both in the U.K. and abroad.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her first psychological crime thriller Little Face, and reported the following:
From page 69:

I would like to be able to say that, as Florence's mother, my statement is worth any number of other people's, but I fear that it isn't. Simon wouldn't let me say half of what I wanted to say. He kept telling me that it had to be a factual account. I was not allowed to use what he called flowery language. I was not allowed to begin any sentence with the words 'I felt', or to say that it was my suspicion that someone crept in to the house and took Florence while David was napping. Apparently you can only include an opinion in a statement if it is a 'Hobstaff', whatever that might be. Simon tells me that this situation is not one.

In the end, all I was permitted to say was that when I came home this afternoon after having been to Waterfront, I noticed that the front door was open, which was unusual, and then I went upstairs and observed that the baby in the cot was not my daughter, although superficially she looked like Florence.

I will not speak again for the time being. I will not contradict David, whatever he says. What's the point? It isn't as if Simon believes me, and nothing I say or do is going to change anybody's mind. I will save my next effort for when Vivienne arrives.

I think this passage is a perfect example of the way P. 69 can represent an entire book. This above-quoted passage neatly illustrates the central dilemma/mystery of Little Face. Alice goes out alone for the first time since giving birth, leaving her baby daughter Florence at home with her husband David. When Alice returns, she insists that the baby in the house is not Florence, and yet David is equally adamant that it is, that Alice must either be mad or lying. Simon Waterhouse is the policeman who is summoned to the house to try and make sense of what's going on - has someone (David or someone else) swapped Florence for another baby, and if so, why? Alice and David live with Vivienne, David's controlling mother, who is has been like a mother to Alice since Alice's own mother died. Alice hopes that if Vivienne is on her side, the police will be more likely to believe her, so she is eagerly awaiting Vivienne's return. Simon has just taken statements from Alice, David and Cheryl, Alice's midwife, and Alice is terrified that he believes David and not her. I wanted the novel to contain a really intriguing mystery, the sort that would keep readers turning the pages, since that's the sort of book I like to read!
Read an excerpt from Little Face and learn more about the novel at Sophie Hannah's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue