Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"Seven Locks"

Christine Wade is a researcher and writer who fell in love with the Hudson River when she first attended Bard College and has lived on its shores in New York City and the Catskill Mountains ever since. Seven Locks, her first novel, won a James Jones Fellowship Award for an unpublished novel in 2009.

Wade applied the Page 69 Test to the novel and reported the following:
An easy way to think about working up a novel is that you pose a question to the reader ---and then you make interesting pathways to lead your reader to the answer. Of course the question has to be intriguing from the moment it is introduced and the reader’s interest must be piqued along the way.

On page 69 of Seven Locks the inaugural question of the novel is restated and pondered:

What is the fate of a Dutch farmer who on the eve of the American Revolution mysteriously and suddenly vanishes, leaving his wife to take care of two young children and tend a farm at the foot of the Catskill Mountains?

By page 69 of Seven Locks the lost man’s wife is seemingly on a quest to find him, but also harbors another secret dilemma that she is seeking to resolve. She has forged an unlikely alliance with a French trapper and is hoping it will be reliable enough to help her get crucial information from the local indigenous tribe.
“If your husband has gone wild they may know of it, and they might know if he has died somewhere. Or if he lives somewhere. These people know many things, much more than any ever admit.”

“He could be anywhere. Will they tell me if they know?”
By this point in the story the main character is marking her trail through the forest by tying cloth to twigs so she can get home again---much as she would in a folk tale. The connection between the story and the archetypes of folklore is purposefully cultivated. And on page 69 the flavors of the food the characters are consuming are again wafting across the page: a description of the 18th Century colonial cuisine is often detailed throughout the book.
Learn more about the book and author at Christine Wade's website.

--Marshal Zeringue