Saturday, April 27, 2019

"City of Flickering Light"

Juliette Fay received a bachelor's degree from Boston College and a master's degree from Harvard University. Her books include Shelter Me, Deep Down True, The Shortest Way Home, and The Tumbling Turner Sisters.

Fay applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, City of Flickering Light, and reported the following:
City of Flickering Light follows burlesque dancers Irene Van Beck and Millie Martin and comedian Henry Weiss as they jump from a moving training to escape the clutches of a brutal burlesque show owner. They make their way to Hollywood with dreams of working as extras in the burgeoning silent movie industry, but soon find it isn’t nearly as easy as they’d hoped. They arrive with very little money and varying ideas of just how committed they are to one another.

Page 69 finds Henry still wearing the same suit in which he’d jumped off the train and negotiating for a position as a tailor in a studio costume department, the first job any of them is able to secure. Albert Leroux, head costume designer, is appalled by Henry’s appearance, but he’s desperate for help. Henry has learned both his tailoring and negotiating skills from his shrewd grandfather, and keeps insisting that a lunch break be part of the package.
“Twenty-three dollars a week,” said Henry. “And I start right now, spend my first week’s salary on clothes … and I get a lunch break.”

“Oh for godsake, what’s the obsession with lunch!”

“I like lunch. And I like you, Albert. You seem like a smart guy and a good tailor, and I’d like to work for you. For twenty-three dollars a week. And a lunch break.”
He’s told Irene and Millie that he’ll meet them, and he needs the lunch break so that he can get there. It’s a pivotal moment for Henry, because he realizes that he’s willing to jeopardize this deal in order to keep a promise to two girls he really doesn’t know all that well. His commitment to them—and theirs to him—grows over the course of the story, and is at times the only thing can cling to as they face the gritty underbelly of 1920s Hollywood and struggle to get to glittering top.

Like many of the Hollywood hopefuls of the time, they face sexism, prejudice, abuse, and poverty. As much as it’s about a fascinating time in a fascinating place, ultimately it’s a story of friendship.
Visit Juliette Fay's website.

--Marshal Zeringue