Sunday, May 20, 2018

"The French Girl"

Lexie Elliott grew up in Scotland, at the foot of the Highlands. She graduated from Oxford University, where she obtained a doctorate in theoretical physics. A keen sportswoman, she works in fund management in London, where she lives with her husband and two sons. The rest of her time is spent writing, or thinking about writing, and juggling family life and sport.

Elliott applied the Page 69 Test to her debut novel, The French Girl, and reported the following:
In The French Girl, page 69 spans the end of one scene and the start of another. Nevertheless, the combination rather neatly captures not only the essence of the novel but also that of the main protagonist, Kate. By page 69, Kate is both struggling with the re-surfacing of painful decade-old memories, stirred up by the discovery of the corpse of the eponymous French girl, and grimly aware that it would take something of a miracle to save her fledgling business. Both are taking a toll on her sense of self, as we see in the first section when she catches a glimpse of her own reflection in a shop window:
I disconnect then look up to see my ghostly self hovering in front of a swimwear montage, a smile still in place from the phone call that fades as I watch. The promise of a new life, a different life, still lies tantalizingly in reach.
In the next scene, we see two inherent characteristics of Kate’s personality: her commitment to facing her difficulties head-on, and her dark humour. We also see Kate’s warmth for Tom. It becomes clear to the reader that his presence back in England, after a long period living in Boston, is an emotional crutch for Kate; we begin to worry that she might be blinded by their shared affection:
I’ve been expecting a call from him, to tell me he’s awarding the contract to a rival firm. I could do without the final nail in the coffin…but why delay the inevitable? “Put him through, please.”

The phone in front of me buzzes after a moment. I find a smile to drape on my lips. “Good afternoon, Gordon. How are you?”

“Very well, thank you. Is this a good time?”

“Absolutely. Fire away.” Fire away. Not that he can really fire me since he’s never actually hired me, but still, the inadvertent gallows humor amuses me. I will tell Tom that later, I think. I can already see his eyes crinkling above that unmistakeable nose.
So: memories and ghosts and for Kate, a shifting sense of her own place in both her past and her present. I think it’s a fairly representative page. But perhaps you should buy the book and judge for yourself.
Visit Lexie Elliott's website.

--Marshal Zeringue