Wednesday, April 24, 2013

"A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate"

Susanna Calkins became fascinated with seventeenth century England while pursuing her doctorate in British history and uses her fiction to explore this chaotic period. Originally from Philadelphia, Calkins now lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two sons.

She applied the Page 69 Test to A Murder at Rosamund's Gate, her first novel, and reported the following:
Opening A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate to page 69 offers some insights into one of the emerging sub-plots of the novel: the developing relationship between Lucy Campion, a chambermaid, and Adam Hargrave, the son of her employer, the local magistrate. In this scene, Lucy is eavesdropping on a conversation between Adam and a young noblewoman, Judith Embry, that was happening in the Embry’s garden late one evening.
“Father, you know, believes—“ Lucy heard Judith say, but her words were lost in the light wind that had arisen. Although unsure why, Lucy moved closer, taking care to keep her figure hidden in the bushes.

Adam appeared to pull away slightly. “Yes, I’m well aware of what your father thinks.”

“Oh, Adam,” Judith continued. “You can do anything you want. Father doesn’t think lawyers are too important.”

Hearing her brittle little laugh, Lucy shuddered.

“Indeed?” Adam asked idly, lazily.

This time, Judith seemed to sense that she had gone too far. “Oh, dear,” Judith said soothingly, caressing his arm. “I’ve made you angry, Adam. Come, let’s have a kiss and make up.”

Lucy watched as Adam regarded Judith. She could not tell what he was thinking. She wondered if he liked what he saw. He paused. “Why not?” she heard him say.

Averting her gaze, Lucy crept away, a deep dismay rising up inside her. Adam deserves better than her, she thought. As if on cue, her nose began to throb, painfully reminding her of the odd encounter with Adam on the stairs.

Suddenly desperate to go home, she stumbled away, only to quickly become disoriented as the fog grew heavier. Without a lantern, she could not find the path. A hand on her arm made her jump.
I won’t tell what happens next, but someone—not Adam—has followed Lucy into a great open field. If I’d been asked to provide page 70, you’d have been privy to one of the darker scenes of the novel.

The excerpted scene, however, is meant to suggest Lucy’s growing confusion about her status in the magistrate’s household, and her emerging feelings towards the magistrate’s son. It also suggests something about Lucy’s lively curiosity and her tendency to poke her nose into things that don’t concern her.
Learn more about the book and author at Susanna Calkins's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue