Sunday, January 26, 2014

"The In-Between Hour"

Barbara Claypole White writes love stories about damaged people. She grew up in rural England, studied history at York University, and worked in London fashion before marrying an American professor she met at JFK airport. Today they live in the forests of North Carolina.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The In-Between Hour, and reported the following:
From Page 69:
“It’s fine.” He could hear her smile. “A senescent grandfather doesn’t bother me in the least.”

How perfect, she had used the word senescent. Will loved to be surprised by people’s word choices. Words held such power and such beauty. And such escape. As a young boy, he chose magical, not mad, to describe his mother. As an adult, he chose alive, not dead, to describe his son.

“You said this was temporary, but I prefer a six-month lease.” She gave a soft laugh, an easy laugh. No drama. “Is that a problem?”

Yeah, because if he thought he’d still be in Orange County in six days let alone six months, he’d kill himself and his dad. But he could easily pay out the lease. It was just money. The one thing he had plenty of.

“It’s not a problem if we can move in tomorrow.”
The passage above offers a glimpse into the voice and mindset of my hero, bestselling author and grieving dad, Will Shepard. At this moment in the plot, Will’s voice also reveals some key elements of the novel.

The In-Between Hour is about words. After his young son dies in a car wreck, Will falls back on his love of words and spins a story to rewrite the truth. He pretends his son is traveling the world. Will’s intention is honorable—to protect his aging father from unbearable grief—but the emotional cost to Will is devastating. His thoughts here reveal how close Will is to unraveling.

And as we eavesdrop on his first conversation with the heroine, we see their differences. Hannah loves the ancient forest of Orange County, North Carolina; Will hates it. He wants only to escape the scars of his past and get back to his life in New York. But he can’t, not until he’s figured out what to do with his dad.

Octogenarian Jacob Shepard has short-term memory dysfunction and a desire to return to his beloved forest. He has engineered being kicked out his retirement home, and Will has come, reluctantly, to his rescue. Which leads Will to contact Hannah, a holistic veterinarian with a secluded cottage for rent at the bottom of Saponi Mountain. Will is drawn to Hannah’s sense of calm and her lack of drama. What he doesn’t know is that she’s also keeping secrets: Her son, a young poet, is in clinical depression and wants only to die. Hannah spends each day praying he can find the strength to live.

Jacob is the reason for this phone call and the lynchpin that brings Will and Hannah and their broken families together on land that holds such meaning for all of them, land that’s going to help them heal.
Learn more about the book and author at Barbara Claypole White's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue