Monday, October 22, 2007
Guess the Plot
1. London, 1888. The city's upper crust are shocked by a series of grisly murders. Can Scotland Yard detective Miles Avery discover who is killing the flower girls of . . . Coldharbour Lane?
2. After years of struggle it looked like Winne Campbell's organic goat cheese would finally make her rich -- until the zombies showed up. Now Winnie and goat wrangler Jorge Santiago prepare to make their last stand on the roof of the barn, armed with only a potato cannon and the will to survive.
3. Chelsea is having trouble adjusting to her new home. None of the kids at school will talk to her. All of her teachers seem to want to expel her. But the real trouble begins when she runs afoul of the coven of vampires that keep her town perpetually shrouded in fog.
4. Mickey can't believe his luck when he lands a low-priced home on the waterfront--until the bodies start washing ashore. After recognizing one as his ex-wife, he starts to investigate. Big mistake. Will Mickey be the next body washed ashore at . . . Coldharbour Lane?
5. No one has lived there since the gruesome--and unsolved--murders three years ago. The Brownes know nothing about the murders when they buy the place. But they're about to find out the truth of what happened that night in the house on Coldharbour Lane. Will they survive to tell anyone else?
6. Michael buys a decrepit house, not realizing that the hippies next door have their marijuana crop on the property. What's worse, Michael's wife wants him to renovate the place into the world's greatest Georgian mansion, and Michael hates Georgian. Will their marriage survive the house on . . . Coldharbour Lane?
Coldharbour Lane is a 100,000 word mainstream novel about a family whose plans are always in ruins.
Michael Galbraith buys decrepit houses, lives in them with his wife and three children during [amidst] all the dirt and disruption of renovation, and then, once he's restored them to perfection, sells up and moves on to the next. It's not a hobby; it's his life. Any period can become his favourite, except Georgian, which he hates. [That sentence doesn't belong there.]
Wife Rachel, a Professor of History, specialises in everything Georgian, and wants to combine Michael's mania with her in-depth knowledge to create a more perfectly-restored Georgian mansion than the world has yet seen. [Here's a better place to tell us about Michael's seething hatred of all things from Georgia.]
For the sake of family harmony, Michael agrees to view three walls and a chimney known as 8 Coldharbour Lane. But when he discovers mysterious ruins in the grounds, his imagination is captured by a much more exciting project: recreating a long-lost Roman villa.
Living in a leaky caravan, he labours on the villa by day and the mansion at night. Rachel can't understand how he can work so hard, yet achieve so little. [In other words, she doesn't know about the villa? Why is he keeping it secret from her? Even if he works on the villa while she's at work, wouldn't she notice a Roman villa taking shape on her property?] And why is he reading up on mosaics rather than Muff glass? [That was going to be my next question.]
The renovation project meets with mixed reactions from their new neighbours. The Britisher-than-thou Dhaliwals at number 2 set out to trump Rachel's period knowledge; [You teach the Georgian era? Why, our ancestors lived during the Georgian era.] the hippies squatting at number 4 think [Michael's] son Josh could be naive enough to be duped into tending their marijuana crop (it's behind the villa); [Hey kid, do me a favor and water my . . . uh . . . geraniums, would you?] and reclusive Mr White at number 6 has been pilfering artifacts from the villa site for years, and doesn't appreciate competition. [If you've been looting your neighbor's back yard for years and you still haven't got everything you want, it's time to give someone else a shot at it.] [Is the book a comedy, or are the neighbors just comic relief? It didn't sound that amusing up to here.]
But when the Department for Culture Media and Sport decides to list the mansion--as is-- [Not clear to me what this means. List it in real estate listings? List it as a historic landmark?] and the same Man From The Planning Dept who took Michael to court over the Case of the Pictish Roundhouse serves an enforcement notice on the villa, [and] then the police seal off the marijuana 'crime scene', it seems as if all the Galbraiths' plans really are ruined. [What's an enforcement notice? What does the Planning Dept. plan? Would I know these answers if I lived in Britain? Is the query going only to British publishers?]
While I'm a fan of specificity, I'm not familiar with the Case of the Pictish Roundhouse, so its mention means nothing to me. You could just say a man from the Planning Dept, with whom Michael had a previous dispute/brush/encounter, serves . . .
Have you considered scrapping this book and writing The Case of the Pictish Roundhouse? It sounds intriguing.
There's gotta be a decrepit Georgian mansion in better shape than three walls and a chimney. The Galbraiths usually renovate places good enough to live in. Now, for a project that's supposed to end up as the most perfectly restored Georgian mansion the world has seen, they start with rubble from the Battle of Britain?
As Georgian architecture was heavily influenced by classical Roman architecture, why is a guy who hates Georgian so obsessed with a Roman villa?
I'm sure this is more interesting than just watching the excruciatingly slow progress of an archaeological dig, but I'm not seeing the thread that holds it all together and makes me want to know what happens next and next. At least if Rachel knew Michael was working on the villa instead of her Georgian mansion there'd be more conflict. Can you have Michael dig up a dead body?