Thursday, May 12, 2016

"Rare Objects"

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kathleen Tessaro attended the University of Pittsburgh before entering the drama program of Carnegie Mellon University. In the middle of her sophomore year, she went to study in London for three months and stayed for the next twenty-three years. She began writing at the suggestion of a friend and was an early member of the Wimpole Street Writer’s Workshop. Her debut novel, Elegance, became a bestseller in hardback and paperback. All of Tessaro's novels (Innocence, The Flirt, The Debutante, The Perfume Collector, and most recently, Rare Objects) have been translated into many languages and sold all over the world. She returned to Pittsburgh in 2009, where she now lives with her husband and son.

Tessaro applied the Page 69 Test to Rare Objects and reported the following:
Page 69 in Rare Objects is part of a conversation the main character, Maeve Fanning, is having with Mr. Kessler, who owns the exclusive antiquities shop where she's just been hired. Mr. Kessler is discussing why people collect things, whether it's out of nostalgia, a desire to prove their wealth and sophistication, because they genuinely value the craftsmanship of the object or even out of sheer obsession. Maeve thinks only the wealthy can afford to collect but Mr. Kessler points out that even she is a collector: as a child she hoarded shiny gold chocolate bar wrappers and used movie stubs in an old cigar box she hid under her bed - tokens of the life she one day wanted to be able to afford - a chocolate-eating-movie-going life, far removed from her own impoverished background. In the novel, all the characters are collectors of sorts; gathering the trappings of the people they want to be. It's a tale of life in Boston at the height of the Depression, the contrast between the struggling immigrant class and the impenetrable Boston Brahmins and a young woman trying to climb out of her circumstances towards a better life. It's also a slice of the American Dream and so naturally, most everyone is a fraud of sorts. And ultimately it's about discovering an identity that's true within that struggle, smack in the middle of all that falsehood.
Learn more about the book and author at Kathleen Tessaro's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Perfume Collector.

--Marshal Zeringue