Friday, March 21, 2014

"Queen Elizabeth's Daughter"

Anne Clinard Barnhill has been writing or dreaming of writing for most of her life. For the past twenty years, she has published articles, book and theater reviews, poetry, and short stories. Her first book, At Home in the Land of Oz, recalls what it was like growing up with an autistic sister. Her work has won various awards and grants. Barnhill holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Queen Elizabeth's Daughter, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“My lord Oxford. You have taken me by surprise. What brings you to the queen’s kitchens?” said Mary, removing her arm from his grasp.

“I was looking for you, Mistress. I went to the queen’s apartments in search of you and Mistress Eleanor said you were most likely checking on your cordials. I knew you to be a woman of many skills, but I did not know you dabbled in medicine,” said Oxford.

“Tis merely a hobby. I am by no means an expert. I have much to learn, but it is pleasant to sip my own concoctions. Why were you looking for me, milord?” said Mary, now walking toward her cordial-making room.

“I wanted to tell you something. Or rather ask…I am not sure which,” said Oxford. His manner was uneasy. Gone was his usual arrogance and in its place, uncertainty. Mary grew more uncomfortable.

“I shall do my best to answer, if you have a question,” said Mary. She watched as the earl shifted from one foot to the other and bit his lower lip. He did not look at her, but instead, gazed at the stone floor.

Mary waited, impatient to get to her fruit and spice mixture, to check on its progress.

“Mistress, I am of an age to take a wife. I have met, and I might add, bedded, many a likely prospect. However, none has touched my heart,” Oxford said, still staring at the floor.

Mary said nothing.

“But now….,” he said, reaching for her hand, “Now I have found one I would wish to be bound to ---you, dearest Mary.”

Mary stood still. She could not think of what to say. She could feel the blood pulsing in her neck and her chest pounded. She did not wish to marry this man—
This page is pivotal to the rest of the story. Mary is young, eligible, and, as the queen’s royal ward and second cousin, she is a desirable match. However, though Oxford would be a fine husband for her, raising her status and her finances, she does not care for him. As she rebuffs him, this action will lead to serious consequences for Mary later on.

Touching on one of the overarching themes of the book—love and its various forms—this scene sets the stage for further explorations about the nature of romantic love, maternal love and love of God. As Mary will learn, love can hurt. Here, it is Oxford who is hurt; later, the tables will turn.
Visit Anne Clinard Barnhill's website.

--Marshal Zeringue