Title: The Other Story
Author: Tatiana de Rosnay
No. of Pages: 320
Origins: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: 15 April 2014
Bottom Line: Impressive story but slow to unfold
“Vacationing at a luxurious Tuscan island resort, Nicolas Duhamel is hopeful that the ghosts of his past have finally been put to rest… Now a bestselling author, when he was twenty-four years old, he stumbled upon a troubling secret about his family – a secret that was carefully concealed. In shock, Nicholas embarked on a journey to uncover the truth that took him from the Basque coast to St. Petersburg – but the answers wouldn’t come easily.
In the process of digging into his past, something else happened. Nicolas began writing a novel that was met with phenomenal success, skyrocketing him to literary fame whether he was ready for it or not – and convincing him that he had put his family’s history firmly behind him. But now, years later, Nicolas must reexamine everything he thought he knew, as he learns that, however deeply buried, the secrets of the past always find a way out.”
Thoughts: There is no doubt that nasty characters can make for difficult reading. Uncouth behavior makes it difficult for readers to fully immerse themselves into the story; it also makes it difficult to sympathize with and therefore care about those characters and their plights. However, quite often, those with horrible main characters make for some of the most interesting reading. Such is the case with The Other Story.
Nicolas is quite simply a jerk. He is rude, arrogant, and self-obsessed. He thinks nothing of using his name and his looks to get his way. In fact, he is one of those people who uses the retort, “Don’t you know who I am?” to demand the best of everything and anything. Yet, as obnoxious as he is, his vacation in Italy provides him the opportunity to realize that life is more than likes on Facebook or retweets from Twitter followers. Ms. de Rosnay uses this self-reflection to allow readers to learn about his rise to fame and the story – both personal and fictionalized – that took him there. At first, the family secrets are not as shocking as one expects, but as Nicholas peels back the layers and digs deeper into his own psyche, those secrets become more intricate and ultimately quite shocking.
It is this reviewer’s experience that Ms. de Rosnay’s novels do not translate well into audiobooks. The pacing is too slow, and a majority of the action is purely cerebral, making it a somewhat excruciating listening experience. In print, the story flows much more smoothly, allowing readers to pause and reflect, take a break from negative reactions towards Nicholas, and appreciate the sentence structure that appears simplistic but is in actuality very nuanced. In The Other Story, she not only details the price of fame but also the long-lasting impact of family secrets and does so with little fanfare or drama. It’s an impressive piece of fiction that feels very true-to-life.