Based on a True Story

Written by Delphine de Vigan

Review written by Judith Cutler

Judith Cutler is the author of many short stories and some thirty novels. Her most recent is Ring of Guilt (Severn House) the latest in the series featuring antique dealers Griff Tripp and Lina Townend. Check out the other novels on www.judithcutler.com


Based on a True Story
Bloomsbury Publishing
RRP: £12.99
Released: April 6 2017
HBK

The protagonist, who uses the name of the author, has had an amazing hit with a quasi-autobiographical novel. 

Overwhelmed with the sudden trappings of fame Delphine finds herself paralysed by writers' block to the point where she is unable to function at all. Though her partner and children fail to recognise her problem; however, L, another writer, steps forward to support her, moving into her apartment and taking on more and more of the routine tasks Delphine is unable to manage. Eventually it seems she has taken on far too many, and it is clear that Delphine must somehow escape. Or perhaps it isn’t clear at all.

As a narrator, Delphine is certainly narcissistic and self-regarding; it took me a lot of effort to get to the point where the novel became compelling – indeed, to my shame, I gave up at about page 100 the first time I read it. But there is nothing in any rulesof novel writing to say your protagonist needs to be likeable, though her reaction to the success many writers would give their teeth for seems bizarrely unattractive. Perhaps some of the problems lie in translation: there were so many sentences beginning ‘I’ that they began to grate. (Yes, it is hard to avoid this when writing in the first person, but there are ways round it.) Once I could have read it in French to find out. Not now, I’m afraid.

This is a very clever, literary, post-modernist novel, with the strengths and weaknesses that involves. Despite the shocking and compulsive ending, I sadly admit it’s not to my taste, but it may be to yours.  Try it and see.


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