Through a series of newspaper/magazine articles and emails the reader gains an insight into Tom’s success, Aurore’s success and the rise and fall of their relationship. I thought this was a unique way to give the reader background!
The story opens with Tom’s best friend and ‘business’ partner Milo trying to get into Tom’s luxury home in Malibu Colony. Breaking in he finds Tom unconscious and surrounded by pill boxes. Milo manages to get him out of his home. We find out that the special edition of Tom’s last book has a major problem – only half of the book has been printed resulting in the publishers having to pulp 10,000 copies (minus the copy that Milo has). We also find out that an investment Milo made has gone wrong … leaving them bankrupt.
We’re then introduced to Carole. All three of them grew up at MacArthur Park (a hangout for heroin addicts, criminal gangs and poverty). Their friendship is a theme that is explored in the story. Their childhood background is always just a whisper away from the lives they are living now.
Back in Malibu, Tom throws the half-printed book in the trash. He swallows a handful of sleeping pills and tranquillisers. Having been woken from his drugged sleep by a storm, he finds a naked woman in his home. Enter Billie Donelly, a secondary character from his trilogy. She has fallen out of the half-printed book and convinces Tom that she really is Billie.
Milo and Carole arrange sleep therapy for Tom but when he arrives, he realises they are going to have him committed. Escaping dramatically with Billie, the adventure begins …
On their journey to Aurore in Mexico there is excitement and suspense. Starting out in Milo’s Bugatti, mishaps mean their transport downsizes (as does their luggage) eventually arriving on foot. There is also suspense and excitement with Milo and Carole locating and trying to catch up with the journey that Tom’s trashed copy of the half-finished book takes. The only remaining copy, it is central to Billie’s well-being. I’ve journeyed to America, Mexico, Rome, Paris and Asia and actually felt as if I’ve spent time there!
There is also plenty of romance. The emotion builds between Tom and Billie and I felt quite distraught when it was time for Billie to go back to being a character between the pages of a book. We find out early on in the story that Milo has always loved Carole and become involved in them each having to come to terms with their own shadows. There is one dramatic scene, which shocked Milo but ultimately forced the truth to be told.
Another unique factor for me is the two different narratives throughout The Girl on Paper. When we are with Tom, it’s a first person narrative and with Milo and Carole, third person. I thought this worked really well.
As with ‘Where Would I be Without You?’ there are apt quotations at the beginning of each chapter that are relevant to what you are about to read. Loved this.
The pace of the plot is fast with crises and resolution throughout. I loved the use of personification, for example on page 257:
“The air was mild and the pale full moon was admiring its own reflection on the surface of the water.”
The twist in the plot … amazing! I had absolutely no idea. Brilliant! I learnt something about myself after reflecting on my reaction…
I’ll be looking out for The Angel’s Call which is due summer 2013.
The Girl on Paper is translated by Emily Boyce and Anna Aitken.
I would like to thank Gallic Books for a copy in exchange for an honest review.