Tuesday, July 12, 2016

"All the Time in the World"

Caroline Angell grew up in Endwell, N.Y., the daughter of an electrical engineer and a public school music teacher. She has a B. A. in musical theater from American University and currently lives and works in Manhattan. As a playwright and director, she has had her work performed at regional theaters in New York City and in the Washington, D.C., area.

Angell applied the Page 69 Test to All the Time in the World, her first novel, and reported the following:
I wrote this novel from the first-person perspective of Charlotte, the twenty-nine-year-old babysitter of Matt and George, the children of Gretchen and Scotty McLean. Part of the story is told in flashback, and on page sixty-nine we are in the middle of a scene that occurred two years prior to the events of the present. Charlotte is recalling her first encounter with Uncle Patrick, Scotty’s brother. Patrick and Charlotte have an offhand, slightly charged chat while she is helping with the clean-up from Matt’s birthday party, and Patrick sits on the couch, not helping. By the end of the conversation, he isn’t sure he has the measure of Charlotte; for some reason, she isn’t responding to him in a way that he recognizes. He decides to test his boundaries to see if he can get a reaction. In the last line on page sixty-nine, Patrick asks Charlotte, “Did Gretchen ever tell you that we used to go out?” And it has the desired effect of catching her off guard.

Most of the novel, of course, centers around the family’s experience of an intense tragedy. As I wrote it, I was largely focused on the emotional complexity of a world that has been altered. Page sixty-nine marks the beginning of Charlotte and Patrick’s relationship. As the plot moves forward, they continue to engage in these sparky exchanges, feeling drawn to each other because they’re in the trenches together. The line between what’s circumstantial and what’s romantic becomes blurred. Charlotte says, “It’s surreal, the way life moves on, even if you feel like you’re not moving with it.” (That one’s not on page sixty-nine though. You’ll have to hunt for it.) What I wanted for her relationship with Patrick was to reflect this particular vitality; how life moves around grief. Joy and humor can exist side by side with despair. I wanted to examine the way we take care of each other, the way we find solace in routines and what we know, how we try to make ourselves safe and, ultimately, the way we have to make ourselves vulnerable in order to keep the things that are important and meaningful in our lives.
Visit Caroline Angell's website and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: All the Time in the World.

--Marshal Zeringue