Review - VERTIGO, Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac

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Book Title: 
Vertigo
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Book Synopsis

"Do you think it's possible to live again, Monsieur? ... I mean ... is it possible to die and then ... live again in someone else?"

You're no longer in the police, but when an old friend asks you to look after his wife as a favour, how can you refuse? She'sbeen behaving strangely, mysteriously - but she's dazzling. And so Flavières begins to scour the streets of Paris in search of an answer - in search of a woman who belongs to no one, not even to herself. Soon intrigue is replaced by obsession, and dreams by nightmares, as the boundaries between the living and the dead begin to blur.

This is the story of a desperate man. A man who ended up compromising his own morality beyond all measure, while the Second World War raged outside his front door. A man tormented by his search for the truth, and ultimately destroyed by a dark, terrible secret.

Book Review

Being a huge Hitchock fan this book particularly intrigued, but even if you’ve never seen a single Hitchcock film in your life, VERTIGO is an engaging, fascinating, and frequently beautiful book. If you are also a fan of the film, then there is greater nuance here than the film, and plenty to conjecture about for the reader.

Set at the start of World War II, the central character of Flavières is troubled by many things, not just the need at one point to flee the war’s encroachment. He seems, on the face of it, a man who was destined to be obsessed with the wife of his friend. Her behaviour whilst mysterious, is mesmerising and her beauty in the eyes of Flavières incomparable. His obsession and the moral dilemmas presented to him by her husband’s insistence that he continue the friendship are understated, yet beautifully illustrated. 

The reasons posited for her behaviour are unexpected and yet oddly believable, but nothing is ever that straight-forward and VERTIGO delivers some twists and turns and stings in the tail that make it end up sitting somewhere between a mystery and a morality play.

Beautifully translated with nary a bump to be detected in the language, VERTIGO is complicated, clever and another of those wonderful, one sitting reading experiences.


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