Based on a True Story 

Reviewed By  Grasshopper2       May 1, 2017


Author  Delphine De Vigan

Distributor:       Booktopia/Amazon 
ISBN:                 9781408878835
Publisher:         Bloomsbury
Release Date:   April 2017  

Website:    http:/ 

Based on a True Story, is described as Autobiographical Fiction, and the author says “Unable to free myself completely from reality, I am involuntarily producing fiction”.  This is a concentrated and deeply internal look at relationships and friendships that develop where there is a great need on both sides. One woman needs to control the situation and manage all aspects of the other woman’s life. This woman is known as L.

The Narrator is Delphine. She has just written a hugely successful book, relating to her mother, who has a bi- polar disorder. The author is wrung out and exhausted, but needs to go on book signing contracts and talks. She escapes one of these and goes to a party where she meets L. Over time, L befriends Delphine who is an empathetic and caring person; she is smart, attractive and knowledgeable. She has so many caring qualities, and shares her life stories as the friendship grows. L keeps encouraging the weary author to begin work on her next book. L herself claims to be a ghost writer by trade, and slowly begins to inhabit, undermine and obliterate Delphine’s career.

This aspect of the story is reminiscent of a psychological thriller, written with intense and beautiful prose. It is a thriller with an atmosphere of suspense and manipulation. L believes what the reader needs is the truth. Vigan does present this story as truth, although we know it is fiction. The use of a letter L to represent the character is curious. Could Delphine be so afraid or shocked that she can’t bear to use the full name? Or could L stand for “reader” in French (Lecteur).

The slow moving and unfolding of this story leads one to feel safe for a short while, but gradually the reader begins to see a pattern of manipulation being used by L. It is not surprising that the film rights for this book have been picked up by Roman Polanski. The ending of the story is still quite open, and one finds oneself going back to clarify points that seemed trivial at the time, but become part of a clever trail of deception.

If you like thrillers with a difference and the slow, unwinding story of suspense, then you will become engrossed in this tale.