With a BFA in acting from Carnegie Mellon University’s elite drama conservatory, and an MA from Seton Hall University’s Museum Professions program, Emily Winslow adds novelist to her professional background when her literary mystery, The Whole World, debuts tomorrow May 25, 2010.
And the title of novelist may be the most personally rewarding for this member of The Debutant Ball (Class of 2010 ) who moved to Cambridge, England three years ago. Although her husband grew up in the city, Debutante Emily was a foreigner fascinated by “the most physically exquisite places” to which she’s ever been. Further describing Cambridge as “rich with honest, passionate, unsnobbish intellectual curiosity,” she suddenly found words for her new home and created an American protagonist to describe and explain it. Which is is how the novel’s backstory came to be:
Two American girls come to study at Cambridge University. They become best friends, they fall for the same charming grad student…and he disappears.
About the “missing student?” Emily admits, “it’s just one of my favorite plots. It’s a fascinatingly awkward situation for the other characters. How long to keep hoping? When to choose to
She also explains the major theme, format and title of her mystery:
“You know how someone says ‘”That means the whole world to me.”‘ Maybe they’re talking about a job, or a romance, or some kind of victory or achievement. That one fraction of life feels to them to be bigger than everything else, and that skew can lead to poor judgment and disproportionate reactions. I have five narrators sharing the plot, but each of them has only their own small ‘”whole world”‘ fraction of it, limited by their obsessions, assumptions and expectations.”
In The Debutante Ball’s April 5, 2010 post, Backstory Feast, Emily details the goal of backstory for her narrators by writing:
“THE WHOLE WORLD begins with a narrator struggling to get past memories that actively get in her way. For the first two chapters, we watch her struggle against these invisible enemies. Finally, in chapter three, she’s forced to confront them. Only then, when she stops resisting, is the reader let in on what those memories specifically are. Their release into her present consciousness is as present an action as anything physical that had come before.
My hope is to show how the past affects the present for all the characters, how it informs their choices and skews their perspectives.”
Indeed this literary mystery is a first-rate psychological drama that initially has the reader wondering “what happened?” and then eventually “whodunnit?”
From the book jacket:
At once a sensual and irresistible mystery and a haunting work of rich psychological insight and emotional depth, The Whole World marks the beginning of a brilliant literary career for a superb, limitlessly gifted author.
Set in the richly evoked environs of Cambridge, England, The Whole World unearths the desperate secrets kept by five complex people–students, professors, detectives, husbands, mothers–secrets leading to explosive consequences.
Two Americans studying at Cambridge, Polly and Liv, become quick friends, strangers to their new home, survivors of past mistakes. They find a common interest in Nick, a handsome, charming, seemingly guileless graduate student. For a time, the three engage in harmless flirtation, growing closer while doing research for Gretchen Paul, the blind daughter of a famed novelist. But betrayal, followed by Nick’s inexplicable disappearance, brings long-buried histories to the surface.
The investigation raises countless questions, the newspapers report all the most salacious details–from the crime that scars Polly’s past to the searing truths concealed in the photographs Gretchen cannot see. Soon the three young lovers will discover how little they know about each other, and how devastating the ripples of past actions can be.
Would you like a sneak peek into The Whole World? Please read the first page.
For years Emily Winslow wrote logic puzzles for Games magazine, embedding traditional logic into longer and more complex stories. And her debut mystery novel might well be thought of as one jigsaw puzzle pieced together by the five narrators. Occasionally their perspectives overlap in the present time yet the key factor here is that their pasts don’t.
Are there red herrings? Not really, but there are secrets along with evasive behavior. The charm of this story is that it’s set in the elegantly described confines of Cambridge — another whole world unto itself. There, five other whole worlds meet and collide based on almost inevitable, personal motivation. It’s logical yet surprising and, in the end, shocking.
Perhaps the book’s most fascinating aspect is realizing that what happens in The Whole World could happen anywhere at any time…and does. For each individual views their respective circumstances and personal priorities as the whole world — and it’s not.
Intriguing, thought-provoking and entertaining, Debutante Emily Winslow’s literary take on The Whole World is available tomorrow. Do read it to discover how slices of life become entangled to complicate the world as a whole.
The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Emily Winslow’s
The Whole World in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to possibly claim your book.
The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Barrie Summy’s
I So Don’t Do Makeup in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Barrie Summy and I So Don’t Do Makeup. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to possibly claim your book.