Friday, August 9, 2019

"A Fire Sparkling"

Julianne MacLean is a USA Today bestselling author of more than thirty novels, including the bestselling contemporary women’s fiction novel The Color of Heaven. She has sold more than 2 million books in North America alone, and her novels have been translated into many foreign languages. MacLean is a four-time RITA finalist with Romance Writers of America and has won numerous awards, including the Booksellers’ Best Award and the Book Buyers Best Award. She loves to travel and has lived on the west coast of New Zealand, in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa, and in London, England. She lives in Nova Scotia with her husband and daughter, and is a dedicated member of Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada.

MacLean applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, A Fire Sparkling, and reported the following:
From page 69:
While I stood at the counter chopping leftover chicken, I felt like a fool for trusting Malcolm so completely. I’d leaped into the relationship without the slightest hesitation, believing that I’d hit the jackpot with a man like him. But how could I have missed that cheating side of him? Was there something wrong with me?

What a stupid question. Of course there was.

I froze and set the knife down, bowed my head, and closed my eyes to brace myself for the familiar wave of guilt that was about to hit me. I was well acquainted with it by now and could always feel it approaching. I could expect it to crash over me with a pounding force and make me relive the night of my mother’s death and accept the punishing weight of that memory, because no one should be allowed to get away with something like that and not pay for it somehow. Right?

I had been only nineteen when my mother died, and though everyone said it was the cancer treatments that killed her, I knew it was my fault.
Is this passage representative of the rest of the book? Honestly, no it’s not, and here’s why: The novel has a dual timeline with sections devoted to a female character in contemporary times, and other sections that take place in London and France during World War II. So, no matter what happens on page 69, it’s not going to be representative of the entire book, because the two time periods and situations are vastly different.

In this passage, the contemporary character (Gillian) is dealing with challenges in her life, as she just caught her fiancĂ© cheating and she still harbors guilt over the death of her mother. These are typical issues for women’s fiction novels and most fans of that genre would probably be drawn to this. But Gillian is also trying to reach an understanding about her 96-year-old grandmother, who she just discovered had an affair with a high-ranking German Nazi at the start of the war and kept it secret all their lives. It’s quite possible that this man might even be Gillian’s real grandfather.

That question is the main thrust of the novel: uncovering the truth about what really happened during the war.

So, in this case, if a reader sampled this page alone, he or she would have no idea what the book was really about or where it goes from there. Fans of World War II fiction would probably take a pass on the book, based on this alone. So, I’m glad there’s a back-cover blurb to convey the bigger picture!
Visit Julianne MacLean's website.

--Marshal Zeringue