Saturday, June 20, 2015

"Enchanted August"

Brenda Bowen was born in Philadelphia, grew up in England (from Herman’s Hermits to Queen to the Clash), was graduated from Colby College, made her career in New York, and longs for a cottage in Maine.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Enchanted August, and reported the following:
Enchanted August is a breezy summer read about four jaded New Yorkers who find themselves, more or less by chance, renting a cottage on a Maine island for one glorious month. The glorious month gets off to a rocky start, however, as the four of them do not have much in common. Brooklyn mom Lottie Wilkes heads out of the cottage to explore the island on page 69. She picks some flowers on her way to the island’s tennis courts, and thinks about her husband, who’s back in the city. Here’s a snippet from the page:
Lottie absently thought how much she wished Jon could see her now. She did not have much vanity, but she imagined that she looked her best at this moment. She could feel the late morning sun setting fire to her hair; she was happy with the flowers in her arms. She was so preoccupied with how she must have looked that she didn’t hear one of the tennis players approaching her.

“Morning,” he said.

“Morning,” she replied.
I like page 69 (especially as it leads to page 71, which I really like). It’s the page where Lottie begins to branch out and meet other people on the island. When I was first writing the book, I got stuck right about here. I told a friend of mine – herself a book editor – that I was writing a novel based on Elizabeth von Arnim’s The Enchanted April. In that story, the main characters barely interact at all with anyone from the village in which the book is set. I believed I had to stay absolutely true to von Arnim’s original: “So they can’t meet any of the islanders,” I told her.

She said “Why not?”

And that “Why not?” stayed with me.

She was right of course. I would have missed quite an opportunity in my own book if I had kept myself so straitened. I went ahead and let Lottie meet Bill Keating, one of those sporty, fit, game New Englanders with which my fictional island – and New England itself – is populated.

He’s handy for exposition, but more important – he invites Lottie to the island’s Hat Party later that summer. And the Hat Party (Chapter 17) is not to be missed.
Visit Brenda Bowen's website.

Writers Read: Brenda Bowen.

My Book, The Movie: Enchanted August.

--Marshal Zeringue