Is this a genre of books? Where unsuccessful writers get themselves into dark and unsettling situations in pursuit of the idea of fame and fortune and bestselling books? I sure hope so, because I plan to seek out more books like this. (The Plot would belong on this list, and maybe Finlay Donovan Is Killing It, although the latter is much lighter and more fun. There must be more.)
Whether this is a specific genre or no, Alexandra Andrews’ Who Is Maud Dixon? was an excellent, propulsive read, start to finish.
Mini Plot Summary: Florence Darrow, who believes she is destined to be a great author, stumbles into the job of a lifetime: research assistant to the mysterious and pseudonymous author Maud Dixon. Florence – one of only two people in the world who know Dixon’s real identity – accompanies the revered author to Morocco to research the new book. When a terrible car crash lands Florence in the hospital, killing Maud, Florence has a new opportunity: take over the dead author’s life.
What I Liked About This Book: This book gave me serious The Talented Mr. Ripley vibes (although I admit to only having seen the movie version; I need to remedy that), which I loved. There is something so undeniably spine-chilling about a person who can slip another identity over her head like a new dress. The writing was superb. Beautiful phrasing, perfectly paced, vividly imagined. The characters were chilling and much too real. And the plot was * chef’s kiss * so good. This may be one of my favorite books of the year.
What I Didn’t Like About This Book: The main thing I didn’t like was, in fact, a success on the part of the author. I didn’t enjoy feeling a kinship with such a despicable person as Florence Darrow. There is nothing likable about Florence, okay? And yet I found some of her thoughts and feelings deeply relatable… which made me feel very squirmy inside.
Should You Read This Book? I didn’t think that any of the “twists” in this book were unexpected, so I would say that if you prefer books to shock and surprise you, maybe this isn’t the one for you. However, if you enjoy books about writers struggling with ugly, disquieting feelings and impulses, and if you like absolutely excellent writing, then you should pick this up. Also, if you liked The Plot, I think this has a lot of what made that book really great… and I might even say this book is a notch better. (And I loved The Plot!)