Tuesday, September 27, 2022


Kathleen George lives in Pittsburgh where she teaches theatre and writing at the University of Pittsburgh. Her new novel, Mirth, is her 15th book. It’s the third of her 20th century histories in which she tries to capture a whole lifetime.

Mirth should appeal to a general audience but will be of special interest to writers, constant readers, and those who are widowed.

George is also the author of the acclaimed novels Taken, Fallen, Afterimage, The Odds (nominated for an Edgar® award for best novel by the Mystery Writers of America), Hideout, Simple, and A Measure of Blood. All seven of these titles are part of her procedural thrillers set in Pittsburgh.

George applied the Page 69 Test to Mirth and reported the following:
Here is what happens on page 69 of Mirth. There are a few small paragraphs in Harrison Mirth's POV as he talks to Maggie, who shows up at a theatre performance he needs to review. She is clearly interested in him and he is intrigued by her forcefulness and her spikiness. He is also glum about his marriage to Amanda who gives him very little attention. But he resists Maggie, taking the high road.

We switch to Amanda's POV. (I actually laughed at my own work). She is in a mood. She hates everything. She hates her hair, she hates people in general, she hates the work she is doing, she hates the apartment she lives in with Harrison. It's because she is unhappily in love with another man. So she goes a little crazy, dyes her hair red and signs a lease for a different apartment, pretty much shocking Harrison who struggles to hold on to any good feelings for her. The first thing he says to her when he sees her red hair is that she doesn't look like herself. Without knowing it, she has made herself look a bit like Maggie.

The Page 69 Test works for me because the novel is about Harrison and the women in his life. They all merge and recombine in strange ways. This is the point at which he doesn't want to see reality--he was too young, the marriage was hasty, he might have made Amanda up to suit his image of a new romantic life for himself. The fact that he had a great apartment in mind for them and she signed a lease on another one (with bad views) without consulting him is a blow. Characteristically of Harrison, he tries to adapt.

For a while the working title of the book was A Romantic Man. It could easily stand as a subtitle. As Harrison explains to his third wife, his whole personality was formed by the movies of the 30s and 40s. Like Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra and their like, the whole purpose of life was winning the girl and living out a happy story of romantic love.
Learn more about the book and author at Kathleen George's website.

Writers Read: Kathleen George (September 2022).

--Marshal Zeringue