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Based on a True Story

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  7,503 ratings  ·  922 reviews
Overwhelmed by the huge success of her latest novel, exhausted and suffering from a crippling inability to write, Delphine meets L.

L. embodies everything Delphine has always secretly admired; she is a glittering image of feminine sophistication and spontaneity and she has an uncanny knack of always saying the right thing. Unusually intuitive, L. senses Delphine’s vulnerab
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 9th 2017 by Bloomsbury USA (first published August 26th 2015)
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Average rating 3.90  · 
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 ·  7,503 ratings  ·  922 reviews

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Emily May
May 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-lit, 2020
Let me say, between ourselves, I’m not sure anyone can protect you from yourself.

4 1/2 stars. It was a bit of a strange journey that led me to reading this French import. I fell down one of those Internet rabbit holes and somehow found my way to the GR page of Based on a True Story, which also happened to be available to borrow on my library's Overdrive. So, I read it. Why not?

Maybe I shouldn't describe it as "reading" because it would be more fitting to say this book enchanted me, and in a
Caz (littlebookowl)
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, bloomsbury
This was so fascinating and cleverly written and constructed. I had questions from page one, and even now after finishing the books my mind keeps running through what happened.
This was slower in pace but the book makes up for it with the intriguing characterisation of L. and the need to know what happens next. You are given enough throughout the book to keep your interest piqued, but not too much that you feel spoiled.

Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Whatever you write, you are in the domain of fiction.

This book totally astonished me. The blurb grabbed my attention immediately; my interest was further spiked by a recommendation from an author whose novels I adore. And then I started reading it, and did so with growing delight and relish as I slowly realised it was absolutely perfect. Because this was my experience, I can't help but think that's the best way to approach it, and I don't want to give too much away. But that implies this is the
4.5/5. Such a gripping, multilayered story! I'll definitely be thinking about this one for a while. ...more
ETA: [Dieses Buch haben wir auch im Papierstau Podcast besprochen (Folge 111: Vive la Résistance)] /ETA

What a wonderful, perfect book. No seriously, I loved everything about this and can't detect any flaws at all.

It's the tale of Delphine, an author who recently came to fame and who has a hard time dealing with her new status as besteller writing star. She feels somewhat insecure and vulnerable and, in this sitaution, embraces the comfort of her new acquaintance L., a rather mysterious woman wh
Liz Barnsley
Based on a true story really wasn't for me. But I should make it clear that in this case it is most definitely the story rather than the writing quality that was my issue. I actually rather loved the way Delphine De Vigan writes so I'll hopefully read some more from her in the future.

This is about this book though.

Problem being this has been done before and honestly? In my opinion better. The mysterious meeting of two minds, an ongoing friendship developing that becomes toxic or perhaps mutually
I can tell you that I almost gave up on this book. The author took way to long to get into the meat of this story. She just went on and on about L. I was seriously getting sick of L and was ready to throw the book across the room.

Not exactly sure why I did, but I continued on. Am I glad I did? The ending told me why the author carried on, but I still think she went overboard. She could have shortened it a lot more and I think it would have kept me more interested.

Thanks to Bloomsbury and Net Ga
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This slow burning thriller completely mesmerized me, and although it was surprisingly action-free, I still couldn't put it down (I still think it qualifies as a thriller because of the atmosphere).

The main character has the same name as the author. Delphine-in-the-book is also an author, and when the story starts, she is thinking back on a difficult time in her life, trying to figure out excactly what happened. I all started after the publication of her latest novel, which was semi-autobiograph
Well, I thought it had potential to hit a 5 star. Nope-not in the whole piece. It deserves a 4 star rating if you only took the first 2/3rds of the book and rated that alone. But I thought the ending just brought that down. When I was at the 40% mark I started to wonder why the ratings here were not much higher. This site usually holds on average many genre with huge over-ratings as a given. Especially this kind of book or best seller modern, double that factor. So why is this book NOT over-rate ...more
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Update - 5 stars. I wrote a few thoughts in our reading group, and commenting there I realised that actually this book deserves the whole 5 stars.

This book is very intelligently written. De Vigan creates a very good atmosphere, you cannot put the book down.
I won‘t write more because everything could be a spoiler. I have a lot of unanswered questions...maybe there will be a sequel??
One star taken because the way the story slowly and claustrophobically develops, i would have wanted a grand finale

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I just can’t do it.
I’ve tried hard to like this book. It’s not the authors fault I think it’s the translation.

In its own language it has high ratings. In other languages it seems not.

Reading it was hard going as it seems it’s being told quite flat. No pitch or pace to it. Sort of slow and a bit repetitive.

The amount of times she referred to “L” was jarring on my mind. Really impacted on me in a very negative way.

So I switched to audio.

For me it wasn’t m
Ieva Andriuskeviciene
It was absolutely random pick from my audio library and boy I was surprised in a good way!
Delphine is a writer who had a big success with her previous book now struggling to cope. Writers block and darkness falls on her when mysterious L. comes to her life. She helps with emails and everyday jobs and slowly takes over her life. Will she be able to write another successful novel? And who is L.?
Don’t get confused it is not a fast paced thriller. It’s written in a autobiographical manner and touch
This has not yet been translated into english. I offer my condolences to all you english speaking folk.

It probably will be translated someday. Look forward to it. It's a literary thriller that will blow your little tiny minds.

I shall translate the title for you at least: Based on a true story.

De Vigan has written a novel about herself and her experiences after publishing Nothing holds back the night. She falls into depression, she experiences writer's block, and everyone keeps asking her "What
Rachel Bea
I was so tense while reading this. Loved the calm, straight forward tone of the book in contrast to the increasingly suspicious and outright sinister actions of L.

A totally believable but mindfuck of a text. For people who like a slow burn, who like to be pushed as readers, and who enjoy dark literature - you should read this!
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is as psychological as it gets. It's like Single White Female meets Misery meets High Tension... but not so easily conspicuous. ...more
Zuky the BookBum
This is a slow burner, don’t expect to go into this one and be met with action and mystery straight away… Or at any point, really. This whole book is a character study, and if you’ve been following my reviews for a while, you know I’m not hugely into these kinds of books, unless I’m absolutely captivated. Unfortunately, I wasn’t complete captivated by this one.

I really loved the writing in this novel, it was superb and if de Vigan wrote more books in my favourite genres, I’d likely read them jus
A longer review is forthcoming but I have to say I was disappointed. I’ve never read any books by de Vigan and I expected to love this, based on the blurbs and the synopsis and the rave reviews on Goodreads. It’s a metafictional novel that’s a slow burn; voice-driven and atmospheric. These are all stuff I would expect to enjoy and interest me. My problem is the language and style. To me, a first-person novel that deals with a character’s interiority, because it relies utterly on the narrator’s v ...more
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This tour de force of metafiction defies the reader to work out what is autobiographical and what is invented. The narrator is apparently suffering from writer’s block and is gradually losing her identity to a mysterious professional ghost writer named only as ‘L’. Spot the literary clues scattered throughout the text and you may be able to solve the puzzle (I've got a theory
but I won't write a spoiler).
This excerpt explains the theme of the novel:-
'Fiction is over for you novelists ... Why do y
Jan 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Very interesting. A hypnotic meta thriller, trippy psychological mindf*ck of a novel. Single White Female with a literary angle. Found this on Netgalley and it piqued my interest, plus it's always good to broaden one's views by reading foreign literature. French know psychotic obsession and do it well. What sets this book apart from many similar works in the meta ness of it all, Delphine the main character is in fact Delphine the author, who after putting out a profoundly personal book retreats ...more
Britta Böhler
Thought-provoking and engrossing play with concepts like 'truth' and 'real life'.

Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A slow-starting but eventually mesmerizing tale of writer's block, identity theft, the nature of memory and the purpose of fiction. The fact that the narrator is a successful novelist called Delphine and is clearly based on de Vigan herself has led some to believe this is autobiography rather than fiction; my guess is that it's fiction through and through but borrows a few peripheral details from real life. The London Daily Torygraph apparently thought the novel was "the next Gone Girl," which o ...more
May 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i have no fucking words
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france
Not a very strong four, but still.

de Vigan's previous book was an autobiographical novel (autofiction or whatever you want to call it) about her mother's death. So her next novel is a novel about an author named Delphine de Vigan who's previous book was an autobiographical novel (autofiction or whatever you want to call it) about her mother's death, and who now finds herself with not only the sort of fame that only a tell-all novel that people take as TRUTH will give you, but also a massive wri
Too bored to continue...

Stuck it out to 27% - the story so far: the narrator, who is possibly the author, is an author who wrote a hugely successful book and now has writer's block because, you know, life is so tough for poor writers. She meets a woman called L (yeah, I know) and whines on in a first-person monologue about a) having writer's block and b) the woman called L (who may well be the author too - one feels the author is the only person in whom the author really has much interest). Noth
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This tour de force of metafiction defies the reader to work out what is autobiographical and what is invented. The narrator is apparently suffering from writer’s block and is gradually losing her identity to a mysterious professional ghost writer named only as ‘L’. Spot the literary clues scattered throughout the text and you may be able to solve the puzzle (I've got a theory
but I won't write a spoiler).
This excerpt explains the theme of the novel:-
'Fiction is over for you novelists ... Why do y
Lolly K Dandeneau
Feb 06, 2017 rated it liked it
via my blog
“If you don’t grasp the little grain of madness in someone , you cannot love them. If you don’t grasp their point of craziness, you miss out. Someone’s point of craziness is their source of charm.”

I loved Delphine De Vigan’s memoir, Nothing Holds Back The Night, in fact sometime this week I will post a review, though I read it at the end of 2013. It begs to be reviewed and I highly recommend it. In this fictional, maybe real (we just don’t know f
May 27, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Delphine is a writer who after the controversy over her last book now finds herself blocked. L is a sophisticated and charismatic woman who befriends Delphine and manages to insinuate herself into every aspect of her life. An obsessive friendship develops between the two and Delphine becomes ever more under L’s sway. This idea of an unhealthy relationship with a dominant and rather sinister partner is a well-worn trope and I didn’t feel that the author brought anything new to the table. What dev ...more
Tamsien West (Babbling Books)
A strange, twisted book about the line between friendship and obsession. While the writing (and translation) was compelling, I felt like there was something missing - a distance between the narrator and the reader. Almost a month after finishing it I can't quite put my finger on what it was about this book that didn't click for me, but overall it was an engaging read.

Perhaps if I was more familiar with the author, her life and career, then I might have been more intrigued by the story which blur
Paul Ataua
Dec 06, 2020 rated it liked it
I loved the writing style, thought the story was interesting, and felt the ending was fine. Unfortunately, I found the gradual development of the plot much too slow. It seemed to take forever to get where it was obviously going. Still and all, I enjoyed it and will read de Vigan again when I get a chance.
May 14, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
This is one of those instances where I really have to doubt the sanity of all those giving this book such high praise. It's just an empty retread of all the ''Hand That Rocks the Cradle'' life-takeover thrillers, with some alleged literary gloss because it's about an author/by an author/dressed as an autobiography/has a celebrity memoir ghost-writer as subject. Delphine witters on and on AND ON about L so much I just thought 'shag her and be done with it, for cryin' out loud', but no – she neede ...more
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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 deals with a family coping with their mother's bipolar disorder.

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“L'écriture doit être une recherche de vérité, sinon elle n'est rien. Si à travers l'écriture tu ne cherches pas à te connaitre, à fouiller ce qui t'habite, ce qui te constitue, à rouvrir tes blessures, à gratter, creuser avec les mains, si tu ne mets pas en question ta personne, ton origine, ton milieu, cela n'a pas de sens. Il n'y a d'écriture que l'écriture de soi. Le reste ne compte pas.” 8 likes
“Oui, moi aussi, je m'étais souvent demandé: comment font les gents? Et à vrai dire, si ces questions étaient modifiées, elles n'avaient jamais cessé: comment font les gents, pour écrire, aimer, dormir d'une seule traite, varier les menus de leurs enfants, les laisser grandir, les laisser partir sans s'accrocher à eux, aller une fois par an chez le dentiste, faire du sport, rester fidèle, ne pas recommencer à fumer, lire des livres + des bandes dessinées + des magazines + un quotidien, ne pas être totalement dépassé en matière de musique, apprendre à respirer, ne pas s'exposer au soleil sans protection, faire leurs courses une seule fois par semaine sans rien oublier?” 4 likes
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