He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Random Acts of Heroic Love, and reported the following:
Random Acts of Heroic Love contains two stories which interweave until they unite at the end of the book in a big reveal.Read an excerpt from Random Acts of Heroic Love, and learn more about the author and his work at Danny Scheinmann's website.
One narrative is set in the First World War on the Eastern Front. Moritz an Austrian soldier is captured by the Russians and taken to a POW camp in Siberia. Obsessed with his childhood sweetheart, he escapes in 1917 and tries to get back to her. He walks six thousand miles across war torn Russia, fleeing the Cossackas and the Bolsheviks. It takes him three years.
Page 69 falls in the other story set in the 1990’s. Leo wakes up in a hospital in South America and discovers his girlfriend is dead. He can’t remember how he got there or how she died. Grief stricken, he has to organise for her corpse to be flown home. As his memory returns he blames himself for the tragedy.
Page 69 is the first page of chapter 6 and as such contains only half a page of text. It represents a hiatus in the intensity of Leo’s grief as he has to come to terms with the practicalities of organising funerals and autopsies. In many ways it is very untypical of the book and of Leo’s story. There is none of the drama of Leo confronting the body of his girlfriend and none of his subsequent attempts to rebuild love from the ashes of his loss.
Had it fallen a little later we might have found ourselves in the midst of one of the bloodiest battles of the first world war where twenty thousand men died in a single day or we might have witnessed Moritz’s capture and escape.
But no, page 69 moves the story on, it is mere exposition, a breathing point, a page which is neither epic or emotional but factual.
The book is loosely based on true events. I was in a bus crash, I lost my girlfriend. I reappraised my life and came to one conclusion; that the only thing that counts is love. Not money, not status, but love. In the end as Tennyson said “Love can vanquish death”. And this book is a celebration of love.
Random Acts has been translated in to 19 languages and was a huge bestseller in the UK but if all they had was page 69 to sell it to them I don’t think anyone would have bought it.
Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.