Wednesday, May 6, 2020

"The Last Summer of Ada Bloom"

Martine Murray is an award-winning novelist and illustrator. She was born in Melbourne and now lives in Castlemaine, Victoria.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, The Last Summer of Ada Bloom, and reported the following:
Page 69 of The Last Summer of Ada Bloom is the end of a conversation between Martha and her daughter Tilly, in which Martha, having returned to a house in which a fateful night has, unbeknownst to all, changed the lives of each family member in different ways, wakes and chastises Tilly, for sleeping in. What is apparent to the reader, but not to Martha, is that her anger is inflated by the fact of Tilly’s youth, both for the freedom and beauty conferred and her seeming insouciance, in the face of Martha’s lack of freedom and fading beauty. There is a feeling of weariness in Tilly’s responses, which suggests this sort of treatment is commonplace. This “plunges Martha into a sudden tumult of yearning for her own youth and the familiar tang of regret that she had lost it. Tilly had drained it out of her and taken it all for herself.”

Given the book is a lot about the potential claustrophobia of the family unit, especially a dysfunctional one, I imagine this scene may touch on the tone of the novel, without really hitting any key narrative movements or revelations. And given there are lurking secrets, betrayals, desires etc, there would be pages that could be way more revelatory or spicy or leading. If you like the psychological twists and turns in relationships, no matter how intricate, you could get a sense from this page, that this novel will bear witness to those. Perhaps a sort of interiority is characteristic. Or a bringing forward of the unconscious processes that make us who we are, or of those unconscious bargains unwittingly struck and perpetrated by parents to children, by spouse to spouse, sibling to sibling and by community to outsider. This page perhaps shows that the female characters, in this family, are each poised on the brink of a life change they are ill equipped for. I do love an ill equipped character, and when they are mutually ill equipped the problems escalate. The odd coincidence about the possibility of this page being revelatory of the whole novel is that it lands on the mother and daughter, whose relationship was the initial starting point for exploring this as a story. It quickly became bigger than that, but this page has at least landed at the core of that burgeoning.
Visit Martine Murray's website.

The Page 69 Test: Molly & Pim and the Millions of Stars.

--Marshal Zeringue