I will admit that I’m a reader for story more than anything else. Beautiful wordplay and language is nice and interesting. I can appreciate technical craftsmanship. It doesn’t mean I won’t read challenging or difficult novels. But it must have a story at its core regardless of genre. Story is my reading love language and it must be cater to while reading.
I stated in my previous review I want to read more translated fiction and The Girl on Paper by Guillaume Musso is my second translated fiction I’ve read in the past few weeks. Guillaume Musso is one of France’s best-selling novelists and he came onto my radar after doing a late night internet search about translated fiction. I’m glad that random search brought this novel to my attention.
The Girl on Paper is the story of Tom Boyd, a best-selling novelist, that recently broke up with the famed pianist, Aurore Valancourt and how his life spiraled out of control after their relationship ended. However, a character named Billie from his novel, The Girl on Paper comes to life to help him win back Aurore and getting him to write his next book.
At first (and predictably), Tom does not believe a character out of his novel could come to life. However, Billie proves her worth, and the novelist believes that his fictional character could actually be a human being. Billie wants to strike a deal with Tom to help him overcome his writer’s block and return this character back to the world of fiction where she belongs.
Along the way, we learned what inspired Tom Boyd to write his novels, the strong relationship to his childhood friends, and the connection between the imagination and real life. There were definitely soap opera elements and unlikely coincidences that move the plot forward. However, Musso created compelling characters in Tom Boyd and Billie that kept me reading. Also, he provided depth about the writing process and the relationship between writer and reader with a quote like this one:
“What’s a book at its most basic? Writing a story isn’t enough to bring it to life. I’ve had several early drafts of manuscripts in drawers, that have never been published, but they’re like dead stories to me because no one else has ever set eyes on them. A book only comes to life when it’s read. It’s the reader who pieces together the images that create the imaginary world in which the characters develop.”
I totally agree with this view about the writer-reader relationship and Musso provides several nuggets throughout the novel to elevate it beyond just an entertaining, page-turning book. Also, he adds a twist on Tom and Billie’s connection I have to admit surprised me as the novel reached its conclusion.
The Girl on Paper was an enjoyable, page turner and will be one of my favorite reads of 2018. Highly recommended.