Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Wendy Moore's "How to Create the Perfect Wife"

Wendy Moore is a writer and journalist. Her work has been published in a range of newspapers and magazines, including the Guardian, the Observer and the British Medical Journal and has won several awards. Her books include The Knife Man and Wedlock.

Moore applied the “Page 99 Test” to her latest book, How to Create the Perfect Wife: Britain's Most Ineligible Bachelor and his Enlightened Quest to Train the Ideal Mate, and reported the following:
Thank you Ford Madox Ford! His page 99 test may not work in every case but my latest book, How to Create the Perfect Wife, passes with flying colours. Nearly one-third of the way through the book, p. 99 opens at a crucial crossroads in the story. This is the precise point at which Thomas Day, an eccentric Georgian English poet and radical, has to decide which of two young girls he should pick to craft into his ideal wife.

My book relates the incredible true tale of Day’s efforts to find a soulmate to live with him in austere isolation devoted to doing good works. Day had a fixed idea of how he wished to live and a firm notion of the woman with whom he wished to share that life. She should be beautiful like a goddess and pure like a peasant maid. She should be clever enough to appreciate his superior intellect and hardy enough to survive a rough comfortless existence. And above all she must always defer to him. By the age of 21, Day had come to the conclusion that this fantasy creature did not exist in Georgian high society. And so he came up with a brilliant wheeze.

In June 1769 Day visited two orphanages – in Shrewsbury and London – and there he selected two girls. One was aged 12, with chestnut curls and brown eyes; the other was aged 11, with blond hair and blue eyes. He would educate them both and then choose the best pupil to train into his perfect wife. By page 99, Day is living in France, in a ménage á trois with his two young girls, poised to decide which of these prepubescent dolls – whom he had renamed Sabrina and Lucretia - would blossom into his future bride.
To make Day’s dilemma worse, the girls had equally pleasing but completely opposite characters too. So although he found himself drawn toward plump, fair-haired Lucretia with her sunny, jolly personality, he was also attracted to slender, chestnut-haired Sabrina with her quieter, more reserved nature and her eagerness to learn. What was a man to do?
By the end of page 99 Day has made his decision. He picks the girl he would then try to fashion into his perfect wife. Who was she? That would be telling.
Learn more about the book and author at Wendy Moore's website.

The Page 99 Test: Wedlock.

--Marshal Zeringue