Thursday, June 16, 2022

"Ashton Hall"

Lauren Belfer is the New York Times bestselling author of And After the Fire, winner of the National Jewish Book Award; A Fierce Radiance, a Washington Post and NPR Best Mystery of the Year; and City of Light, a New York Times Notable Book, a Library Journal best book, a Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, and an international bestseller. Belfer attended Swarthmore College and has an MFA from Columbia University. She lives in New York City.

Belfer applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Ashton Hall, and reported the following:
I’ve done this test for my previous novels, and the results are always fascinating.

Upon opening Ashton Hall to page 69, the reader is dropped into the midst of a crucial flash-back scene in which Hannah Larson, my main character, is walking across Central Park with her nine-year-old son, Nicky. Earlier in this scene, Hannah and Nicky were forced to leave a children’s birthday party after Nicky, who has trouble regulating his behavior, punched a classmate at a moment of frustration during a basketball game.

This particular page shows mother and son at a moment of calm. Nicky, who is generally a warm-hearted and sunny child, has befriended another boy, and the two toss a football back and forth. Hannah tentatively begins a conversation with the boy’s mother. As Hannah and Nicky continue their walk across the park, Hannah will soon make a staggering discovery about her husband and about her marriage, a discovery that will throw her life off-kilter.

But here, on page 69, the reader sees Hannah’s deep love for her son, and the reader also senses the balance she struggles to maintain, for herself and Nicky both, as she tries to help Nicky learn to control his angry outbursts.

The relationship between Hannah and Nicky is the most important in the novel, and I think of Nicky as the true hero of Ashton Hall. Page 69 is an opening into the complexity of their relationship.
Visit Lauren Belfer's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Fierce Radiance.

The Page 69 Test: And After the Fire.

Q&A with Lauren Belfer.

My Book, The Movie: Ashton Hall.

--Marshal Zeringue