Tuesday, March 7, 2017

"The Fifth Letter"

Nicola Moriarty is a Sydney-based novelist, copywriter, and mum to two small (but remarkably strong-willed) daughters. In between various career changes, becoming a mum, and completing her BA, she began to write. Now, she can’t seem to stop. Her works include the novels Free-Falling and Paper Chains, and the novella Captivation, as well as contributions to two U.K. anthologies. She was awarded the Fred Rush Convocation prize from Macquarie University, along with "Best Australian Debut" from Chicklit Club.

Moriarty applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, The Fifth Letter, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“What?” said Deb as she stood up and crossed to the phone. “All I’m doing is making sure there’s not an urgent message for her or something.”

Deb picked up the phone and frowned down at the screen. Then she brought it over to Joni and held it out in front of her. Joni read the text that was showing up on the home screen. It was from Josh and all it said was, take your tablet.

“That’s weird, right?” said Deb.

“Why?” asked Joni. “He’s just trying to help her remember to take her tablet. No big deal.”

“Yeah, but what tablet? And why is it so … so commanding? Like he doesn’t even say, ‘Hey, babe, just a quick reminder,’ or anything like that.”

“Maybe he was typing it in a rush. And could be she’s just on a course of antibiotics for something.”

“I still don’t like the way it sounds.” Deb put the phone back where she’d found it and then sat down on the floor again to pick up one of Joni’s pencils and continue coloring. Though now her pressure on the page looked a little harder than before.
The Fifth Letter is about four women in their thirties (Joni, Deb, Trina and Eden) who have been friends since high school. On a girls’ weekend getaway, they decide to share anonymous confessions in letters in an attempt to reconnect as they’ve drifted apart a bit in recent years. However, the letters only serve to push them further apart, especially when Joni discovers the charred remains of a disturbing fifth letter in the fireplace.

In this extract from page 69, Joni and Deb are looking at Trina’s phone without her knowledge and Deb is concerned about the tone of the text message from Trina’s husband. Even though it’s focused in on one character’s issues, it’s actually a decent representation of The Fifth Letter as it deals with the themes of secrets and mystery and, without giving too much away, Deb is actually right to think there is something sinister about this particular text message. This is also the type of conversation I could imagine having with one of my own friends if I had doubts about the intentions of another friend’s partner. It’s not that I would want to talk about a friend behind her back, but I think it’s something we all do at some point in our lives, and it’s definitely something that the four women in The Fifth Letter do a lot.
Visit Nicola Moriarty's website.

--Marshal Zeringue