Thursday, July 14, 2016

"Julia Vanishes"

Catherine Egan grew up in Vancouver, Canada – a beautiful city nobody in her right mind would ever leave, but leave she did, and you may draw the obvious conclusions about her mind. Since then, she has lived on a wee volcanic island in Japan (which erupted during her time there and sent her hurtling straight into the arms of her now-husband), Tokyo, Kyoto, Beijing, an oil rig in the middle of China’s Bohai Bay, New Jersey, and now Connecticut, where she writes books and defends the Eastern seaboard from invading dragon hordes alongside her intrepid warrior-children.

Egan applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Julia Vanishes, and reported the following:
From page 69:
When I get to the library with coffee for Frederick, wondering if it is more painful to sit there and pretend to read poorly or to clean the inside of the grandfather clock on the landing, he is wearing his coat and putting a piece of paper into the pocket.

“Oh,” I say, feigning disappointment. “Are we not reading today?”

He looks up as if I’ve startled him, but he always looks that way.

“I’m so sorry, Ella – I’ve got to run an errand for the professor,” he says. The way he says it, a little grudgingly, I smell an opportunity.

“Let me do it,” I say. “Heaven knows you have more than enough to do as it is.”

He grins. “That’s kind, Ella. But really, I must go. It’s a ways from here.”

“All the more reason you ought to let me go,” I press.
This scene, at the opening of chapter 5, shows Julia at work pretending to be an illiterate housemaid in Mrs. Och’s grand house, and trying to persuade a principled young scholar in the house to let her run an errand that will further her mission as a spy. It’s a fairly quiet moment building towards more dramatic revelations. Julia eventually figures out that she’s working for the wrong side, but by the time she knows her employer’s ultimate goal, it’s too late to back out. It’s not a high-drama point in the book but I hope a reader skimming this scene would want to follow the intrigue and see why Julia is so eager to run Frederick’s errands for him!
Visit Catherine Egan's website.

--Marshal Zeringue