Monday, November 21, 2022

"The Lindbergh Nanny"

Mariah Fredericks was born, raised, and still lives in New York City. She graduated from Vassar College with a degree in history. She is the author of the Jane Prescott mystery series, which has twice been nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award, as well as several YA novels.

Fredericks applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Lindbergh Nanny, and reported the following:
From page 69:
I think of Rob Coutts, how I was so sure. And so wrong. And how being wrong wasn’t a small thing; I was shattered. You’d think something that dangerous, I’d have felt it. I didn’t.

People don’t, I find.
On page 69 of The Lindbergh Nanny, Betty Gow looks out the window of a palatial summer home and sees Ellerson, the chauffeur in the swimming pool with another man. It is 1931, so she is mildly shocked, but more by his audacity in using the family pool than the gender of his companion. She worries that the intimacy is risky. How can he trust this man not to betray him? At the same time, as a servant living in someone else’s house, having no identity beyond what her employer deems suitable, she envies that joyous sense of self that comes of connecting with another person. Afterwards, she reflects on a young man she recently broke up with, the pain she experienced when she discovered she had given herself to someone she shouldn’t have trusted.

Page 69 reflects one of the key themes of The Lindbergh Nanny, even though it’s a scene I took in and out of the book as I wrote it. I worked very hard to stick to the facts of the kidnapping and the histories of those involved. One of the two significant alterations in the book was to make Ellerson a gay man. I did so because this is a story where private decisions become suddenly controversial, even incriminating, in the wake of the kidnapping. An addiction to alcohol or gambling, a love life out of the mainstream—these were no longer the personal business of the Lindbergh and Morrow staff; they were seen as vulnerabilities that might be exploited by the kidnappers or character flaws that might indicate a criminal nature. I wanted one character to have a need for privacy that would be immediately sympathetic to the modern reader. In addition, Ellerson is the one person in whom Betty confides the secrets of her past. Often, it is he who gets her where she’s going, whether it’s driving her to the Lindbergh house on the tragic night or introducing her to her next boyfriend. I didn’t want their relationship to be romantic—but grounded in a common understanding of love: its wonders and also its perils.
Visit Mariah Fredericks's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Death of No Importance.

The Page 69 Test: Death of an American Beauty.

Q&A with Mariah Fredericks.

--Marshal Zeringue