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BASED ON A TRUE STORY BY DELPHINE DE VIGAN

PUBLISHED BY BLOOMSBURY
REVIEW BY CALLIE STEVENS

How much truth is there in fiction? What does ‘based on a true story’ really mean? The prologue of this fascinating book seems to explain it clearly: this story is based on what actually happened to the author, what almost stopped the award-winning novelist from writing forever. Or is it? Intrigue established, the reader is drawn into Delphine’s life.

After a particularly long and harrowing book signing, and on the verge of a break down after the shock success of her latest book about her mother’s death, Delphine goes to a party. It is there that she meets the intriguing and beautiful L. They seem to connect, sharing cocktails and chatting late into the night. From then on, L. integrates herself into Delphine’s life, making her an indispensable friend.

L. (as we only ever know her) is a ghost writer for the very famous and works in secrecy. But is that also why she avoids meeting Delphine’s children, lover and other friends? From the outset the relationship is odd, as Delphine notes, but she convinces herself that she is being paranoid. Readers are privy to all Delphine’s thoughts and her increasing inability to write anything at all. Noticing bills and correspondence building up, L. offers to help, further assimilating herself into Delphine’s life. But is she somehow the cause of the author’s distress?

The details the author provides and the intimacy they assume is rather disarming, and you almost feel like you’re talking with a friend. It’s as if Delphine is confiding her story in you, and trying to work out exactly what happened during this difficult time in her life. But she’s not sure, and as the book goes on you’re increasingly asking what is real and what is fiction. Readers are left questioning the blurred lines between fiction with autobiographical detail, and autobiography with fictionalised elements. So what really happened between Delphine and L.?

As the novel went on I couldn’t tell if it is pure genius or an elaborate hoax. I can say for sure that I was compelled to finish the book to try and find out.

 

Find this novel in store at Planet Books. Ask the friendly staff for guidance too, and they’ll be more than happy to order you in a copy if it’s already sold out.