Saturday, June 2, 2018

"The Pearl Sister"

Lucinda Riley is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen novels, and her books have sold more than thirteen million copies in over thirty languages globally. She was born in Ireland and divides her time between England and West Cork with her husband and four children.

Riley applied the Page 69 Test to The Pearl Sister, the fourth installment in The Seven Sisters series, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Poverty was only a heartbeat away in the tenement buildings near the docks. Father often said that no one could ever criticize him for living in a manner above his flock, but at least, thought Kitty as she walked into the drawing room to toast her hands by the fire, unlike others in the neighbourhood, the manse’s inhabitants were warm and dry.

“Good evening, Mother,” she greeted Adele, who was sitting in her chair by the fireside darning socks, resting them and the pincushion on her small bump.

“Good evening, Kitty. How was your day?” Adele’s soft accent was that of Scottish gentility, her father having been a laird in Dumfriesshire. Kitty and her sisters had loved traveling south each summer to see their grandparents, and she had especially delighted in being able to ride horses across the sweeping countryside. She had always been perplexed, however, that her father had never accompanied them on their summer sojourns. He cited the need to remain with his flock, but Kitty had begun to suspect that it was because her grandparents disapproved of him. The McBrides, although wealthy, had come from what Kitty had heard termed “trade,” whereas her mother’s parents were descendants of the noble Clan Douglas, and frequently voiced their concern that their daughter lived in such reduced circumstances as a minister’s wife.

“Mrs. McFarlane and her children send their best wishes, and Mr. Cuthbertson’s leg abscess seems to have healed. Although I have some sad news too, Mother. I’m afraid Mrs. Monkton died yesterday.”

“God rest her soul.’ Adele immediately crossed herself. “But perhaps it was a blessed relief, living like she did…”

“Her neighbour said they’d taken her body to the mortuary, but as there are no relatives and Mrs. Monkton hadn’t a farthing to her name, there’s nothing for a funeral or a decent burial plot. Unless…”

“I’ll speak to your father,” Adele comforted her daughter. “Although I know church funds are running low at the moment.”

“Please do, Mother. Whatever Father said about her descent into sin, she had definitely repented by the end.”

“And she was delightful company. Oh, I do so hate the onset of winter. The season of death … certainly around these parts.” Adele gave a small shudder and put a hand protectively across her belly. “Your father’s at a parish committee meeting this evening, then out to take supper with Mrs. McCrombie…”
This is an extract from a part of The Pearl Sister set in the past. The main character, CeCe, has hesitantly begun researching her past, and has come across the life of Kitty McBride, who lives in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1906. Kitty is not yet eighteen, an intelligent and inquisitive young woman, who looks up to her father, a Presbyterian clergyman. Page 69 captures her on the cusp of change; not only will she begin to lose her faith in God and in her father, but Mrs. McCrombie will take her to Australia…

I adored writing Kitty’s character because we get to see her develop from an obedient young woman into a headstrong and very capable pioneer, living in the isolated and wild town of Broome in Western Australia. Her character was inspired by the real lives of the many great pioneer women of the Outback, who were brought to Australia as wives and daughters, but who learned to work the land and survive in an unforgiving new world.
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--Marshal Zeringue