Two unethical women clash in this book about novelists
(NOTE: Some of the links in this blog are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase on Amazon. Thank you for supporting my writing in this manner. More details here.)
This book opens with a woman regaining consciousness in a hospital in Semat, Morocco. She is not at all sure what happened to her, nor does she know why a man in a military uniform is calling her “Madame Weel-cock.” From this starting point, we go back in time to learn these details:
Helen Wilcox is a reclusive writer who has written a best-selling novel, Mississippi Foxtrot, under the pen name, Maud Dixon. The book is the talk of the nation! But, who is Maud Dixon? Possibly the only person who knows is her agent, Greta Frost. When Helen suddenly wants to take on an assistant, it seems strange to Greta, but a candidate for the position is found in the person of Florence Darrow.
Florence is a wannabe writer who is never quite able to sit down and write. She works in the publishing industry as an editorial assistant at Forrester Books in New York City. In an attempt to get ahead there, she strikes up a sexual relationship with her boss. When their relationship ends, she stalks his wife and young children in an attempt to blackmail him. He immediately has her fired and gets a restraining order against her.
Adrift without a job, Florence is sure fate will intervene. Magically, it does when Greta calls her to offer her an interview with “Maud Dixon”! Florence and the author have a very brief facetime-type interview in which Florence does little to impress. Magically, however, she gets the job!
Thus, she goes to work for Maud Dixon/Helen Wilcox. Eventually, the two women go to Morocco to research Helen’s next book. It is there that some sort of accident occurs. Florence ends up in the hospital. Helen is mysteriously gone. The only identification in Florence’s purse is Helen’s passport. The two women resemble each other, so the authorities assume Florence is Helen. And Florence, being a person without a moral compass, all too willingly assumes that identity. Voila! She is now a best-selling author!
Of course, things do not go smoothly from there.
As we read on, we eventually learn that Helen’s moral compass is even more askew than Florence’s. In fact, Florence looks like a saint by comparison. With two very unlikeable characters, I did not care what happened to either of them and therefore, I did not care for this book.
Perhaps I am alone in this sentiment since 81% of the 3057 people who rated the book on Amazon gave it four or five stars. Their opinions do not sway me. Indeed, if you like the basic storyline of an author usurping the work of another author, I suggest you read The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz instead. It’s terrific!