Thursday, June 4, 2009

Jennifer Manske Fenske's "The Wide Smiles of Girls"

Jennifer Manske Fenske is the author of the novel Toss the Bride. Her essays have been published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Arizona Republic, and Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel as well as New Parent and The Lutheran magazines.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new novel, The Wide Smiles of Girls, and reported the following:
The Wide Smiles of Girls is a novel about two sisters, March and Mae Wallace, whose relationship becomes fractured when March is injured in a horseback-riding accident. Convinced she bears some responsibility for the accident, Mae Wallace becomes March’s favorite punching bag. The two sisters move to a South Carolina island and meet Hale, an artist and widower who is mourning the death of his young wife, Ruth. Ruth has died mysteriously after climbing an old highway bridge that is being dismantled.

On page 99, Mae Wallace meets Hale, her new next-door neighbor on Langdon Island. She is lonely, cut off from her sister and her old life she left behind in Atlanta. Hale is hurting, too, two years after he lost his wife. He still lives in their seaside bungalow; he still paints under the old highway bridge where she fell.

From page 99:

March was paralyzed. It hurt me to say it. Her legs didn’t work and it didn’t seem that was ever going to change. The accident had robbed her of walking, running (not that she ever did), and the independent life she had lived. In time, March could function independently, we were told, but until then, there was physical therapy, rehabilitation, and “life skills” training.

My parents, numb for months about the accident, had selected Sea Villas Rehabilitation Center as one of the best places in the nation for March to stay for the foreseeable future. Although no one asked, I volunteered to go and live on the island to be near my sister.
Preview The Wide Smiles of Girls, and learn more about the author and her work at Jennifer Manske Fenske's website.

--Marshal Zeringue