Saturday, November 11, 2023

"The Madstone"

Elizabeth Crook's novels include The Which Way Tree, The Night Journal, which received the Spur Award from Western Writers of America, and Monday, Monday, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2014 and winner of the Jesse H. Jones Award from the Texas Institute of Letters. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her family.

Crook applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Madstone, and reported the following:
The Page 69 Test works perfectly for The Madstone.

From page 69:
How might I of answered that, Tot. I strain to be a person of faith and find my way to a life that means a thing or two, and most days I lack much idea what I aught to do to that end, other than pull my weight and make a living. I can’t answer questions like what she was asking of me, as who knows anything of the life after this one, if a person is honest, yet I wanted to help her find some measure of peace of mind. I will tell you, I was attached to my father before I lost him, and to my sister before she took off from my life, and to my step mother, of sorts, who tried to help raise me, despite we did not get along. I have been attached to folks I’ve met up with and taken meals with. Yet these cares was mostly slow grown and come to me over time, whereas what I felt for your mother, whilst she stood in that shred of light thrown from the moon behind, come at me all at once, and unforeseen. The questions in my mind of why she done what she did, and why she’d had hold of the gun, and what your father intended when he charged up to the door, those questions went to the back of my thoughts. The only thing I could think about was how I might stop her from being so scared.

You won’t be going to hell, I told her. You have my word on it.

This come out of nowhere and not from particular knowledge of what the Lord might say on the matter, but I figured the burden of guilt she carried might not be nearly as heavy in actual fact as what she bore it to be. I can’t say if she trusted my words, but the way she stood seemed to ease a little.

I said, If there’s anything I might do for you, I will.

She said, I was finding my way all right, but that’s turned.

Whatever I might, I will, I told her.

You’re nice to me, she said, and then owned that she had better get back to the house, as you was asleep and might wake and miss her, and I agreed, and she went out and left me asking more questions than I am accustomed to asking.
1869, in the hill country of Texas, Benjamin, a wise but uneducated young man, realizes he is falling in love with Nell. In the dead of night, she stands in the doorway of a wagon shed where he has been asleep and quietly confesses to him about a momentous crime she has committed. Burdened with guilt and fear, she asks if he believes she will be condemned to hell for having done it. Benjamin badly wants to put her mind at ease. The only aspect that doesn't quite fit with the book is the religious tone of the exchange, based on the question Nell is asking. Religion doesn't play a major role in the story.
Visit Elizabeth Crook's website.

The Page 69 Test: Monday, Monday.

The Page 69 Test: The Which Way Tree.

My Book, The Movie: The Which Way Tree.

The Page 69 Test: The Madstone.

--Marshal Zeringue