Thursday, May 5, 2016

"And After the Fire"

Lauren Belfer's debut novel, City of Light, was a New York Times bestseller, as well as a number one Book Sense pick, a Barnes & Noble Discover Award nominee, a New York Times Notable Book, a Library Journal Best Book, and a Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. City of Light was a bestseller in Great Britain and has been translated into six languages. Her second novel, A Fierce Radiance, was named a Washington Post Best Novel of 2010 and an NPR Best Mystery of 2010.

Belfer applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, And After the Fire, and reported the following:
When I found this page in the finished edition of And After the Fire, I was surprised to realize how many of the book’s themes are presented here.

Page 69 marks the beginning of Chapter 8. Susanna Kessler, my lead character in the book’s present-day story, has recently inherited a mysterious musical manuscript that appears to be signed by Johann Sebastian Bach. She knows nothing about it, or about Bach’s music. She’s sought out the help of a scholar, Daniel Erhardt, a musicologist who specializes in the work of Bach. As Chapter 8 begins, she’s traveled by train to the college where he teaches, in the fictional Granville, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia, to show him the manuscript. This will be her first in-depth talk with the man who will become a pivotal figure in her life. They are both recovering from devastating traumas, and they will circle each other as they attempt to regain their personal equilibrium.

While on the train, Susanna has been listening to a Bach’s Greatest Hits collection she downloaded. She experiences a “buoyant charge of energy” from the music. When she finishes listening, she “hears the music still playing in her mind, its patterns spinning onward.”

I listened to the music of Bach obsessively while I worked on And After the Fire, and Susanna’s experience of Bach’s music is (perhaps not surprisingly!) an excellent description of my own … the lift of energy, the patterns and complexities spinning onward in my mind long after the music itself has ceased.
Learn more about the book and author at Lauren Belfer's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Fierce Radiance.

--Marshal Zeringue