Friday, April 27, 2012

"A Surrey State of Affairs"

Ceri Radford grew up in Swansea, studied English literature and French at Cambridge and started her career with Reuters. She has since written about books, TV, culture, society, male strippers and many other things besides for publications including The Daily Telegraph, the Times Literary Supplement, and Red Magazine. She currently lives, confusingly, very close to Geneva, but in France.

Radford applied the Page 69 Test to her first novel, A Surrey State of Affairs, and reported the following:
How do I even begin? Page 69 does indeed give a pretty representative insight into the nutty world of my heroine, 53-year-old wife, mother and bell-ringer Constance Harding, but it takes some explaining. Constance believes that her housekeeper, Natalia, allowed her beloved parrot, Darcy, to escape in a fit of (entirely understandable) pique. Constance’s husband Jeffrey, a corporate lawyer, is telling her not to jump to conclusions. The book is written in the style of Constance’s blog, and this is how she recounts the incident on page 69:
Apparently, there was no prima facie evidence to prove beyond all reasonable doubt to a fair-minded group of people that Natalia had indeed released a parrot named Darcy. There were no fingerprints, no DNA evidence, nothing beyond assumptions and suspicions. This young girl, who had an unblemished record and her whole life in front of her, could well have been framed.

Sometimes I think Jeffrey is wasted on tax. Once he had finished, he took a long swig of wine, and said, in a normal, quieter, voice, “Besides, the economy’s buggered, my pension’s on thin ice, and she’s cheap.”
I think this captures the humour of the book, which skates between all-out farce and a satirical look at British middle class life. It also points to the context. A Surrey State of Affairs is set in 2008, the year of the financial crisis, and the economic maelstrom underscores the sense of Constance’s many certainties crumbling. Not that Constance is aware of it at this point. By the end of the novel, she has had her big adventure and gained some self awareness, but here she is still merrily clueless.

I love using the first person form to play around with unintentional irony. After Jeffrey’s warning, Constance, reflecting on the offers for platinum credit cards that keep arriving in the mail, and the waiting list for a Mulberry handbag, concludes that all is well after all:
As long as it is so easy to borrow money to buy unaffordable things, I’m sure the economy will perk up soon.
Visit Ceri Radford's website and like her Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue