Sunday, August 23, 2015

"The Flying Circus"

Susan Crandall is a critically acclaimed author of women’s fiction, romance, and suspense. She has written several award-winning novels including her first book, Back Roads, which won the RITA award for best first book, as well as Whistling Past the Graveyard, which won the SIBA 2014 Book Award for Fiction.

Crandall applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Flying Circus, and reported the following:
I was quite intrigued by this idea, the litmus test of a particular page representing the whole of the book. So take a read and then I’ll give you my assessment of “The Page 69 Test” in the case of The Flying Circus:
He got up and walked around.

He looked in the little copse of trees. No Cora. No Mercury.

Standing by the Jenny, he heard something. A soft, piglike snuffle.

He climbed up on the wing. Cora was asleep in the cockpit, Mercury curled on her lap. Cora was doing the snoring. The dog looked up and cocked his head.

“Bet you need to visit the doggie outhouse,” he whispered as he lifted the dog from her lap. There, under the dog, clenched in her hand was the hammer they used to drive the stakes. Maybe she wasn’t as brave…or as foolish…as Henry had thought.

He climbed quietly back down and set the dog off to take care of his business and went to take care of a little of his own. When he came back out of the trees, Cora was standing next to Gil, who seemed to be ignoring her as if she had really succumbed to Henry’s will and disappeared in the night.

“Well, are we entertaining here today, or moving on?” she asked brightly. “I personally think we should move on. Get a nice early start. Maybe head to Lafayette. You know those engineering students at Purdue will be wild for a plane ride.”

With a cigarette in dangling from the corner of his mouth, Gil kept his eyes on the newspaper. “I am an aviator. I do not ‘entertain.’”

Entertainment, excitement, spectacle—call it what you will—was exactly what Gil sold. Henry’s short acquaintance with Gil had given him enough insight into the man that he understood Gil viewed selling rides as a means to an end. That end was simple, to keep his plane filled with fuel and his feet off the ground. Regular meals resided as a distant third.

And Purdue? Cora clearly wasn’t using good logic. Plenty of towns were closer that would require less fuel to reach and still had more than enough people for a good crowd. And those university kids—Henry didn’t feel at all good about going and mixing with them. Farm folk he understood. Of course, he kept all of these thoughts tight inside. His only concern now was making sure he was in the cockpit of that Jenny when it left here.
Surprisingly to me, it does give a nice slice of the whole. Although only it only scratches the surface, of course, as any single page can.

This book is about three misfits on the run in 1923. Mutual need bands them together in a traveling daredevil act while their conflicting goals and deeply concealed secrets threaten to tear them apart. This story is about the cobbling together of a family from lives demolished by circumstance. It’s a deeper examination of the times; anti-German sentiment bred by the Great War, women’s rights, union strikes, and the damaged returning war veterans. All of this is filtered through the adventure of a lifetime as these three (and a stray mutt) barnstorm their way across the heartland. In this adventure of aerial stunts and daredevil dangers, they discover that the truth can be the most dangerous thing of all.
Visit Susan Crandall's website.

--Marshal Zeringue