Sunday, May 15, 2022

"Mustique Island"

Sarah McCoy is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of the novels Mustique Island; Marilla of Green Gables; The Mapmaker’s Children; The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee; the novella “The Branch of Hazel” in Grand Central; The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico; and Le souffle des feuilles et des promesses (Pride and Providence).

Her work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post, Read It Forward, Writer Unboxed, and other publications. She hosted the NPR WSNC Radio monthly program “Bookmarked with Sarah McCoy” and previously taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso.

She lives with her husband, an orthopedic sports surgeon, their dog Gilly, and cat Tutu in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

McCoy applied the Page 69 Test to Mustique Island and reported the following:
From page 69:
No judgment, condemnation, spite, or shame. Just a woman partaking of God’s creation. How could that be wrong?

She slipped the straps of her dress over her shoulders and held it over her breasts a beat, Harry’s words—wobbly bits—resurfacing. She closed her eyes and listened to the tumble and crash of the cresting waves until the sound drowned out all thoughts. She let the dress drop then and walked forward into the surf. Bubbles tickled up from her belly button. The wind swept her hair back and kissed her lips briny. She put her arms out to either side, bare-chested to the horizon. The sun spread over skin that had never seen its light and warmed her like a giant ember.

You are beautiful, she thought to the sea, the heavens, and higher.

So lost in the moment, she’d forgotten Patrick until his shouts drew her to the shore.

“. . . too far!”

The water’s roar and the thudding of her heart made it hard to understand what he was saying. She turned over her shoulder to hear better.

“That’s it.” He’d come in knee-deep, angling his camera. “Stay like that.”

The waves crested frothy over the coral, fizzing up like champagne. She reached forward to let the bubbles buoy her and liked knowing Patrick was behind. He wasn’t an anchor like Harry had been. Rather, he felt like the halyard on a sail. The sand beneath her feet gave, and she sank into the silkiness of the current’s push and pull.

“I got it!” he said.

But she remained facing the blue on blue, transfixed by a beauty that had nothing to do with her. This was something bigger. Beauty that could not be reproduced. Beauty that defied lineage and surpassed human comprehension. It overwhelmed her with its power and for the first time in her life, she honestly prayed.
This Page 69 Test is some kind of soothsayer mojo. It absolutely applies.

In this scene, my protagonist Willy May Michael walks off the beach of Mustique Island into the ocean so that her new ‘friend’ Patrick Lichfield (a famous photographer) can take her picture. It’s glamour and sex and beachy. But it’s so much more than that, too. It’s a woman feeling all the dichotomies faced in her era (1972) and the ones readers continue to face now (2022): the pride and shame in our bodies, the pleasure and sorrow in our emotions, the longing and loathing in our own desires, the push and pull of the world’s forces. Regardless of gender, what all of us really want is to be fully seen and accepted. That’s the vital marrow of life and the most beautiful part of existence. True freedom is being able to fully love and being fully loved.

Page 69 gives great insight into Willy May and the book as a whole. It’s about finding yourself while losing yourself. It isn’t all one or all the other either. Both are necessary. The shift of these forces is as much a part of the natural world as the tides.

Mustique Island is an escape that doesn’t just send the reader sailing into the frothy waves. It has a compass that I hope navigates readers to new heart territories.
Learn more about the book and author at Sarah McCoy’s website, Facebook page, Instagram page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Sarah McCoy and Gilbert.

The Page 69 Test: The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico.

The Page 69 Test: The Baker's Daughter.

The Page 69 Test: The Mapmaker's Children.

The Page 69 Test: Marilla of Green Gables.

--Marshal Zeringue