Tuesday, April 7, 2020

"The Love Story of Missy Carmichael"

Beth Morrey‘s work has been published in the Cambridge and Oxford May Anthologies and shortlisted for the Grazia Orange First Chapter competition. She lives in London with her family and dog.

Morrey applied the Page 69 Test to The Love Story of Missy Carmichael, her debut novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Off!” I said sternly, holding one finger in the air and experiencing a distinct lack of authority. Bob stared at me and scratched behind one ear with her back leg.
On page 69 of The Love Story of Missy Carmichael, Missy has just taken her foster dog, Bob, home for the first time, and they are becoming acquainted. Both of them are occupied with finding Bob a place to lie down. Bob favours the furniture, whereas Missy insists on the floor, but does find a blanket for the dog to lie on. They end up napping together, and there’s the sense Bob’s presence is a relaxing one, and that even as Missy falls asleep, something else has awoken in her.
It was a shame there was no fire in the grate. Maybe I’d make one up tomorrow.
It’s very strange, but I think the test really works for my book. It’s a simple, direct scene between Missy the central character, and Bob, who is the linchpin of the novel. It reflects Missy’s reluctance to foster a dog, and her lack of experience, but also gives a hint of how it’s going to work for her. I guess the only way in which it might put someone off is if it’s a reader who doesn’t like dogs. It isn’t really as ‘doggy’ a book as the page suggests. But I’d be comfortable with a browser picking that passage, as it has a nice sweet/sour mix which is reflective of the book as a whole.

Including page 70 would be an even neater insight into the book, in that it marks the end of Part One. The set-up is complete: Missy has the dog who will change her life, and next we’ll see how her world starts to open up. This section ends with a telling, brutal detail that reveals something of Missy’s history – her adoration of her grandfather, who was a hugely influential figure in her childhood:
…for the time time in my life, even since Fa-Fa told us that story about the ripper who sang nursery rhymes from the wardrobe before he cut up his victims, I hadn’t checked the cupboards before I went to sleep.

Cave canem. Beware the dog.
Missy gets Bob for protection, to make her feel safe in her home. She wants a guard dog, but what she gets is a friend – and many more friends as a result. Bob is a rescue dog, but in the end, it’s Missy who is rescued.
Visit Beth Morrey's website.

--Marshal Zeringue