Monday, June 8, 2009

"The Way We Were"

Marcia Willett was the youngest of five girls. Her family was unconventional and musical, but Marcia chose to train as a ballet dancer. Unfortunately her body did not develop with the classical proportions demanded by the Royal Ballet, so she studied to be a ballet teacher. Her first husband was a naval officer in the submarine service, with whom she had a son, Charles, now married and a clergyman. Her second husband, Rodney, himself a writer and broadcaster, encouraged Marcia to write novels.

She applied the “Page 69 Test” to The Way We Were, her tenth novel, and reported the following:
Let me start by saying that I hate talking about books that were written some time ago. I cannot speak for novelists in general but only for myself when I say that creative writing is achieved by living in ‘another world’ - a sort of parallel universe which you share with your characters. When the book is finished you let them go - usually with great sadness as you have lived together in a very intimate relationship for nearly a year - so as to be open to the next lot who are usually then knocking on the door. Having said that let me see what I can do.

The book is about the close friendship of two girls who have known each other from school. One, Julia, is happily married to a naval officer: the other, Tiggy, is mourning the death of her fiancĂ© and carrying his child. She turns to her best friend: Julia is the only person she knows who will continue to love and support her (this being in 1975 when it was not done to give birth out of wedlock). When Tiggy dies in childbirth, Julia and her husband adopt the baby boy, Zach, but life is never simple and complications arise - there wouldn’t be a story otherwise, would there?

On page 69 we are in 2004. This page is not really representative of the book in that this is a jolly scene where Zach’s pregnant wife, Caroline, is moving into a house in Tavistock. Zach (in the navy like his adopted father) is at sea - naval men are always at sea when their wives are doing something tedious like moving house - and she is being helped by Julia and Pete, her husband.
Preview The Way We Were, and learn more about the author and her work at Marcia Willett's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue