Friday, September 27, 2013

"In Falling Snow"

Mary-Rose MacColl's first novel, No Safe Place, was a runner-up for the Australian Vogel literary award. Her first non-fiction book, The Birth Wars, was a finalist for the Walkley Awards. She lives in Brisbane, Australia, and Banff, Canada, with her husband and young son.

MacColl applied the Page 69 Test to In Falling Snow, her North American debut, and reported the following:
On page 69, we are in the 1970s story where Iris Crane, now in her eighties, has just been invited back to Royaumont, a hospital in World War I where Iris worked as a nurse. Iris had gone to France from Australia because her 15-year-old brother Tom had run off to war, and she was to bring him home. At this stage, all we know is that something happened there and it’s haunted Iris. In the pages before, Iris has been arguing with her grand-daughter Grace, who she raised, about whether she’s well enough to make the trip, and Grace has just left her to go to work. Seeing the invitation takes Iris back, to what happened at Royaumont.
After I got off the phone, I realised I was still holding the invitation in my hand. Water under the bridge, I’d told Violet. What a stupid thing to say.
And then we’re back in 1914, Iris at 21 and her friend Violet Heron, 25, the ‘flower bird’ girls as they come to be known, driving back from the little railway station in Viarmes to Royaumont, to unload straw mattresses for the 16 doctors, nurses and orderlies to sleep on that first night. The party had arrived at the rundown abbey a few days before, but there’s no electricity, no heating and rubbish everywhere. In less than two weeks, they need to establish a hospital.
We worked with three orderlies to unload the mattresses from the truck and carry them up the two flights of stairs to the room in which we would all sleep. Miss Ivens had offered any who wanted their own rooms but everyone felt there was safety in numbers. Who knew what ghosts lurked in the dark corners of an old abbey?
From here, the Royaumont story takes off. Iris, a nurse, becomes Miss Ivens’s assistant. Violet, her dear friend, drives an ambulance. Iris almost forgets about Tom, a decision she hardly knows she makes which will haunt her for the rest of her life.
Learn more about the book and author at Mary-Rose MacColl's website, and follow MacColl on Facebook and Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: In Falling Snow.

Writers Read: Mary-Rose MacColl.

--Marshal Zeringue