Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Beth McMullen

Beth McMullen graduated from Boston University with a degree in English Literature and received an MLS from Long Island University. After landing a gig with Reader’s Digest, she eventually realized she’d rather write books than condense them.

Her new novel is Original Sin.

A couple of weeks ago I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
Started Early, Took My Dog, by Kate Atkinson

I’m a huge fan of Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie novels and I find that I can get really bitter if anything interferes with my reading once I’ve started. Her characters are so well drawn and so distinct, you really get no sense of the author leaking through. She has a marvelous ability to create truly different people rather than just tweaking people we’ve already met in previous works. Her minimalist approach, especially to the way Jackson expresses himself, is spot on. You can almost see the tension rising off of him in a cloud. Atkinson is also subtly funny. I find myself laughing without realizing it’s happening.

The first Kate Atkinson book I read was Behind the Scenes at the Museum which is not a Jackson Brodie novel and is her first work. A fabulous read that I’m sure will get you hooked.

The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain

This is really the story of Hemingway’s starter wife, Hadley, about whom I knew next to nothing when I started reading. That in and of itself made this an interesting experience. This is not an action packed read and sadly we know how it ends but it is wonderfully atmospheric and does an excellent job capturing the 1920s Paris.

The secondary characters, many historical heavyweights in their own right, were fun to meet again in this setting. Imagine what an odd party it must have been and how intimidating for a woman, far from home, who was not herself considered an ‘artist’. Her pain, when she realizes how she has been betrayed, is palpable. It stayed with me for quite some time.

After finishing this novel, I went to see Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen’s latest film. I felt very smug watching Hemingway on the screen, as if I had the inside track to his inner workings thanks to my primer, The Paris Wife.
Visit Beth McMullen's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Original Sin.

--Marshal Zeringue