[REVIEW] Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

 

Describing this book is so fun because it’s just so unusual. This is a fiction book but the tricky part is that it features Delphine de Vigan (the author) as a character called by the same name, Delphine de Vigan. All the happenings in the authors life are the same (writing of ‘Nothing Holds Back the Night’ and her life and relationships) but it also features another character named L (pronounced elle=she,her). It’s a mix between reality and fiction which makes it completely unique and again unusual.

When you’re an adult, friendship is built on a kind of recognition, of complicity: a shared territory. But it seems to me that in the other person we look for something that we only possess in a minor, embryonic or frustrated form. So we tend to form links with those who have been able to develop a way of being that we incline towards but have not attained.

Delphine de Vigan has written her latest novel ‘Nothing Holds Back the Night’ and after its huge success she gets stuck writing her next one. The expectation of topping her previously published book is taking its toll on her and making her depressed and unable to approach a computer and even type anything into her Word file. Now questions of her morality come up: Why has she shared such a personal story of her family with the world? Was it all even true? Had she no shame for doing that? While pondering over these questions she meets L. a beautiful and fascinating woman at a book event she attended.  She immediately becomes drawn to her – she’s everything Delphine aspires to be. From this point on their friendship intensifies and they become very good friends – they have dinners, they share their personal stories and their work but something is wrong.. L. is now taking over her life, she starts to dress like her, reply to her emails, she even mimics her mannerisms. What originates from a healthy friendship turns into a toxicicity of great length. Does she really know L.? Was their encounter a coincidence or does L. have hidden motives?

You know, what interests me,’ I went on, ‘is understanding what we’re made of. How we manage to assimilate some events, some memories, which mix with our own saliva, spread through our flesh, while others remain like sharp stones in our shoes. How can we decipher the traces of the child on the skin of the adults we claim to have become? Who can read these invisible tattoos? What language are they written in? Who is capable of understanding the scars we think we’ve learned to hide?

This novel was something strange, something personal and I feel like this was a therapeutic thing for Delphine and she needed to write it.. I feel like she needed to write this so she can let go of her worries but then again this story is fiction and it may not represent her feelings at all. The title ‘Based on a True Story’ is brilliant and the origin of the title takes place in the book and I have to say that this book is very intelligently written. A shoutout to the translator George Miller because I loved the way he made sentences come to life. Having previously read ‘Nothing Holds Back the Night’ I appreciated this book more and I recommend you read that one before this one but it’s not necessary. I just love how she created this story resembling her life and adding fiction to it or did she add fiction to it? The French are making an adaptation of this book ‘D’après une histoire vraie’ with Eva Green as one of the leads but I have to say that making an adaptation of this book isn’t something that I’m all for because I view it as something personal to both the reader and the author.

This is a great novel from Delphine de Vigan and it is definitely worth reading because of its peculiarity and thrillery aspects.

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher (Bloomsbury UK) for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 

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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.

[REVIEW] Nothing Holds Back the Night by Delphine de Vigan

I have had this book for more than two years now and I got it for under a dollar/pound/euro – brand new might I add! This was a period in my life where I wanted to get different genres of books to read. I have been reading memoirs and non-fiction (mental health) books for a while now and I cannot believe that I have read this book just now! I have to add that I got an ARC of ‘Based on a True Story’ by the same author and that pushed me to read ‘Nothing Holds Back the Night’ and I am so glad I read it. I just devoured this novel, it was fascinating and haunting and much more.

This is a memoir/non-fiction book about Delphine de Vigan’s mother, Lucile Poirier told from the authors perception of her (with the help of some people who I will mention at the end). The novel is told in three parts: first part is about Lucile’s childhood, the second part is Lucile as an adolescent and the third part is Lucile with her children all grown up and their relationships. You should know that this book begins on a sad note and the sadness weaves its hands through the whole novel. Delphine finds her mother unconscious in her apartment and with this we begin our journey through the life of Lucile and the way her child writes about her. Lucile (one of nine children) was a child model, she was doing photoshoots for ads and was always the pretty one in the family but behind that beauty was an introverted child who loved spending days reading books and watching people from a distance. At a very young age her father Georges noticed that she was different from his other children. As we slowly make progress into this book we learn that her family is cursed with tragedy. At the age of nineteen she had married twenty-one year old Gabriel, one of her fathers work colleagues’ son, and got Delphine – with this she began to drift away from her family –  she was now a woman who had to take care of her daughter. She was a young, beautiful mother who always turned heads and amazed anyone with whom she crossed paths with. I feel while writing this that I’m doing  a poor job describing this book for which I apologise because there’s a lot of happenings in this book. She had another child, Manon who is four years younger than Delphine. Her marriage with Gabriel didn’t work out (as do all rushed marriages) but she still had a few relationships after her split from her husband.  What we find out is that Lucile has a bipolar disorder (manic depression) and how it affects her life and the lives of her children. Her children had to witness her lows and highs at a very young age and in a way had their childhood taken away from them.  It was upsetting reading about how Lucile’s personality changed when she was having her episodes. Delphine de Vigan has written this book with the help of her sister’s recollection of their mother and the brothers and sisters of her mother –  this made the story more complete and raw because it painted a complex study of Lucile’s life and psyche. Saying anything further will just ruin your experience with this book.

I read this book fairly quickly because of the subject matter and because it was something that interested me. Delphine de Vigan also includes her struggles and worries about writing this book into this memoir which I appreciated. I also appreciate her sharing the story of Lucile who was a really interesting person and reading about her made me have a better outlook on life and family relationships. This novel is really powerful and it should be read by everyone.

My rating: 

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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.