Sarah Kathryn's Reviews > I Am Madame X

I Am Madame X by Gioia Diliberto
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Jan 30, 09

Read in January, 2009

This book was written by a woman whose previous works have been non-fiction biographies, and apparently, when she switched to fiction, she decided this meant she could still say she was writing about real people, but change important details of their lives. For starters, she made her main character four years older than the woman whose life she ostensibly represents, in order to be able to narrate events that happened before the family left New Orleans for Paris. (The author admits this in an author's note at the end of the book.) That's just sloppy. "Sloppy" is an apt term for the rest of the book; when she needs to discuss the history of the period, straight historical explanations are put into the text, in a way that does not ring true to the premise of the rest of the narrative. Most of the narrative comes across as an attempt to navigate the history of this woman without really developing her motives or her feelings. It does not quite work as fiction, and has been altered too much to work as history. There are much better books out there.
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