Sunday, July 19, 2020

"Musical Chairs"

Amy Poeppel is the author of the novels Small Admissions and Limelight.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Musical Chairs, and reported the following:
On page 69 of Musical Chairs, the browser will find the two main characters Bridget and Will having dinner together at their favorite restaurant in Litchfield County, Connecticut. Bridget is there for the summer, and Will has just arrived for a visit from New York City. It’s pretty clear from the dialogue on this page that they are close and care about each other a good deal. Will even reflects that she looks beautiful. However, when he asks Bridget about the state of her heart, telling her that the man who broke it has “made a colossal mistake,” the browser will quickly determine that they are not romantically linked. There’s humor in their conversation in spite of the fact that Bridget is quite sad over a break-up. Will questions her decision to wear eye makeup given that “the chances of tears are a hundred percent.” There’s a level of comfort between them and a history as well. When she mentions that her sister threw her favorite, old sweatpants in the trash, he knows immediately what she’s talking about.

I love the idea of the Page 69 Test, and in the case of Musical Chairs, the test gives a really accurate sense of the heart and tone of the book. The novel centers on the friendship between Bridget and Will. They have known each other for about thirty years, not only as friends, but also as the founding members of a classical piano trio. And although they’ve never been together as a couple, everyone around them finds that hard to believe. After all, they get along better than most married couples. The humor on the page is also worth noting because while the book has touching moments, it is essentially a family comedy. Page 69 is a nice glimpse of the friendship and rapport between these two characters, which makes it a good representation of the book as a whole.

What the page doesn’t reveal is that Musical Chairs has a large cast of characters. Bridget mentions her sister and father, both of whom have important roles in the book. But there are many other characters who are relevant to the plot, such as Bridget’s children, Will’s brand-new girlfriend, several musicians, a handyman, a politician, and a housekeeper, to name a few. It’s a lively book, and perhaps page 69 is a little too quiet to be representative of the book’s busy tone. Nevertheless, I hope the browser finds it intriguing!
Visit Amy Poeppel's website.

--Marshal Zeringue