Title: Based on a True Story
Author: Delphine de Vigan
Published: April 6th 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: Translated Fiction
Length: 384 pages
Source: NetGalley eARC
Book Blurb (via Goodreads):
What would you do if your closest friend tried to steal your life?
A chilling new novel from the prize-winning author of No & Me – a Richard & Judy Bookclub selection
Today I know that L. is the sole reason for my powerlessness. And that the two years that we were friends almost made me stop writing for ever.
Overwhelmed by the huge success of her latest novel, exhausted and unable to begin writing her next book, Delphine meets L. L. is the kind of impeccable, sophisticated woman who fascinates Delphine; a woman with smooth hair and perfectly filed nails, and a gift for saying the right thing. Delphine finds herself irresistibly drawn to her, their friendship growing as their meetings, notes and texts increase.
But as L. begins to dress like Delphine, and, in the face of Delphine’s crippling inability to write, L. even offers to answer her emails, and their relationship rapidly intensifies. L. becomes more and more involved in Delphine’s life until she patiently takes control and turns it upside down: slowly, surely, insidiously.
Based on a True Story is a chilling novel of suspense that will leave you questioning the truth and its significance long after you have turned the final page.
It’s not often that I’ll read translated fiction, or pseudo-fiction. This one had me intrigued from the off and I assumed that it was non-fiction to start with, but after finishing, I’m not sure. The idea that someone could enter your life and slowly take over until you’re no longer sure of yourself just completely had me and I needed to read this book to find out how it happened and the aftermath too.
Delphine has written a book about her family. It’s had a rather unexpected reception that has made the book very popular. Riding the media wave, Delphine meets L. at a party one night and they become fast friends. As Delphine struggles to write her next book, L. is there to support her through the trials. But is she helping or hurting? As Delphine becomes more and more reserved and reclusive, it seems that only L. understands her. Is there something Delphine isn’t seeing?
This book is a slow burner for sure, but it’s such a good read. There’s so much mystery and intrigue wrapped up in a story about a struggling writer. When L. steps into Delphine’s life, you’re intrigued but there’s a layer of mistrust there. As the reader, it’s easy to see how L. acts is more than a little strange. You question her motivations. You question Delphine’s trust in L. too.
I’m not usually the kind of person that likes slow books. I find them often dull and difficult to hold my attention, but the way the narrative works with this story is that you feel like you’re sitting down with the author and she’s telling it to you directly. So, while the story is slow and sometimes repeats itself, there’s an urgency in the undertone that keeps you reading. You have to find out what happens. You have to find out where everything is going.
For my first foray into translated fiction, I loved this. It’s something so different to anything that I’ve read before. For what seems to be a simple book, there’s so many layers to this story that completely hook you in and it’s difficult to put this down.
I’d highly recommend this book to anyone looking for something a little bit different. Nothing is lost in translation. It’s sharp, it’s commanding, and it gives you an experience unlike most fiction reads.
About the Author
Delphine de Vigan is an award-winning French novelist. She has published several novels for adults. Her breakthrough work was the book No et moi (No and Me) that was awarded the Prix des Libraires (The Booksellers’ Prize) in France in 2008.
In 2011, she published a novel Rien ne s’oppose a la nuit (Nothing holds back the night) that is dealing with a family coping with their mother’s bipolar disorder. In her native France, the novel brought her a set of awards, including the prix du roman Fnac (the prize given by the Fnac bookstores) and the prix Renaudot des lycéens.
*Picture and Biography from Goodreads