Sunday, March 5, 2017

"The Lost Book of the Grail"

Charlie Lovett is a writer, teacher, and playwright, whose plays for children have been seen in more than 3,000 productions. He is a former antiquarian bookseller and an avid book collector. He and his wife split their time between Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Kingham, Oxfordshire, in England.

Lovett's novels include The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession, First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, and the newly released The Lost Book of the Grail.

He applied the Page 69 Test to The Lost Book of the Grail and reported the following:
From page 69:
Arthur turned from that familiar spot back into the shelter of the cloister walk. By the time he reached the library there was a spring in his step—a spring that immediately fell flat when he saw the morass of wires, computers, tripods, and cameras that took up the entire far end of the room. The cathedral library had found a new constituent, thought Arthur, and he wasn’t at all convinced that was a good thing.

“Good afternoon Mr. Prescott. Nice day at work?” Bethany had her hair pulled back and was wearing a worn pair of jeans and a crisp new T-shirt bearing the crest, such as it was, of Barchester University. A hairband did little to restrain the wisps around her forehead. “Took me all morning to finish setting up, but I’m really getting down to it now.”

Arthur sighed wearily. Not only would he not have the peaceful dimness of the library to himself, he would be subjected to the clicking of Bethany’s camera as an incessant reminder that the world of the book was being eroded in his very presence.

“How long are you going to be here?” he said with an audible sigh.

“Wow, way to sound welcoming.”

“I’m not trying to be unwelcoming; I’m just seeking a piece of information.”

“Well, judging from the number of pages I’ve gotten done this afternoon, because like I said I spent the whole morning setting up and then went to the refectory—is that what you call it, or is it just the cafĂ©? Anyway I had this ploughman’s lunch thing with, I have to tell you, the best cheese I have ever put in my mouth. And my grandmother lives in Wisconsin.”

“I’m sorry,” said Arthur, interrupting when she seemed about to take a breath, “but does this have anything to do with my question?”

“How long am I going to be here, right. Well I think I can probably digitize an average of about one manuscript per day, so I guess that’s forty-one days.”

“There are eighty-three manuscripts,” said Arthur firmly.

“No, there are eighty-two manuscripts. The first thing I did when I got here was count them.”

“Well, I have been working at Barchester Cathedral Library since before you were born,” said Arthur harshly, exaggerating his point. “I have examined the collection in detail and I keep a copy of Bishop Gladwyn’s...
As usual, page sixty-nine proves an important turning point in The Lost Book of the Grail. Although the two main characters, Arthur and Bethany, have met before, this is the first time we see Bethany’s invasion of Arthur’s favorite spot. Near the top of the page, he enters the cathedral library, expecting a quiet afternoon of reading and research in this secluded, ancient room. Instead, he finds Bethany (who has come to Barchester tasked with digitizing all the medieval manuscripts in the library) surrounded by the tools of her trade—a “morass of wires, computers, tripods, and cameras that took up the entire far end of the room.” At this point, Arthur is still antagonistic towards Bethany, and this disruption does nothing to help.

But the story really gets going at the bottom of the page. The working title of my novel was The Lost Manuscript, because much of it concerns the search for a missing medieval manuscript and the secrets it contains. And it is on page sixty-one that Arthur first gets a sense that a manuscript is missing—though he will not believe it for a few more pages. When Bethany says that she has eighty-two manuscripts to photograph, Arthur insists that there are eighty-three in the collection. Their disagreement will play out in the following pages and lead to the discovery that a manuscript has gone missing.

With the two main characters, a bit of their early conflict, the introduction of one of the primary mysteries in the narrative, and the central setting of the Barchester Cathedral library all coming together on page sixty-nine, I’d say it’s a good representative of The Lost Book of the Grail.
Learn more about the book and author at Charlie Lovett's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Lost Book of the Grail.

--Marshal Zeringue