*I received this galley from the publisher. An Accident in August is available 08/30/11, but you can preorder here.
When Julia with Europa Editions contacted me about reading and reviewing An Accident in August by Laurence CossÃ©, I was excited because it would be my first review copy from Europa Editions. I was also slightly unsure because the premise was based on the accident wherein Princess Di lost her life. Though I typically love fiction based on fact, there are some topics based on real events of which I am not wild – 09/11 and Princess Di’s death are two. However, I had heard quite a bit about CossÃ© and thought I’d give it a try. I am so glad I did.
An Accident in August is not about Princess Di. Instead, CossÃ© focuses her story on the theory that a slow-moving vehicle at the mouth of the Pont de l’Alma tunnel was the proximate cause of Princess Di’s fatal accident.
The story opens with Lou, sitting in her car parked in her garage, shakily replaying an accident she had on her way home from her job in Paris. She was driving cautiously through the Pont de l’Alma tunnel when a vehicle came up quite suddenly behind her, striking her and then ricocheting into the tunnel wall. Lou speeds home, shaken up and not thinking rationally. After all, the accident wasn’t her fault.
The next morning, Lou listens to the radio and understands the occupants of the car were none other than Princess Di, her companion Dodi, their bodyguard, and chauffer. From that moment on, Lou is panicked, knowing she should go to the authorities, yet desperate to avoid the scrutiny she knows will come, and her actions, though seemingly well-thought-out and rational, bring her ever closer to the brink of ruin.
This is the sort of book that only a brief synopsis will prevent giving away vital pieces of the plot – and there were a lot of scenes that caught me by surprise with their intensity. CossÃ© (along with the translator Alison Anderson) has created a taut, quietly-suspenseful story about the nameless, faceless characters in a tragedy – those to whom we never pay much attention but whose lives are irrevocably altered. An Accident in August is riveting, tense, and thoroughly unexpected.
jenn aka the picky girl
P.S. Prepare to do some Googling, if like me you like to find the truth behind a story.
**Cross posted at the Europa Challenge Blog**