Thursday, September 1, 2011

An Accident In August by Laurence Cossé

Review by Jennifer from The Literate Housewife Review
Lou, sitting in her car in her garage, cannot believe what had just happened to her. She was driving home from Paris when she became involved in an accident with a speeding car that crashed in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. Under the influence of shock and adrenaline, Lou fled the tunnel and drove straight home. She was terrified of being caught, but she made plans to get her car repaired as soon as possible. She hoped that no one would be the wiser. She had no idea at the time that Princess Diana was in that other car or that she was killed in that accident. With that knowledge, things became that much more complicated.
I would have read this book in one sitting if my plane ride had been long enough. I was headed home to Michigan for my aunt’s funeral. I was sad and anxious about all that was to come. I needed something to take my mind off of life and death for a little while. I actually hadn’t anticipated reading at all, which is why I tossed the ARC for this novel in my bag. It was light weight, not something I’d have regretted lugging along for nothing. Never mind all that. From the moment I opened the cover, I was sitting in that white Fiat right along with Lou.
An Accident In August packed a huge punch in the tiniest of packages. I remember staying up later than I’d ever intended the night the news broke in about Diana. As Cossé weaved in further details about the events surrounding that car crash, it all came back to me. Making Lou a part of that accident was inspired. Her fear of the police and, given the mood of nearly the whole world, of her life leapt from the paper straight into my chest. Just when I thought I couldn’t absorb any more paranoia, the story spiked unexpectedly. From that point on, I couldn’t have set the book aside to save my life. It was a dream reading experience.
Laurence Cossé has written an amazing and intense novel. An Accident in August will grip you by the shoulders and won’t let you go. Alison Anderson did a terrific job translating. I never once had the feeling that I wasn’t reading the book in its native language. Better than any confessional or Jewish mother, this book will make you feel the guilt, panic and remorse that would result from any attempt at skirting the law. Reading this book was such a powerful experience for me that I pretty much annihilated the ARC in the process. No matter. I preordered the finished copy. The cover is absolutely perfect. Read it. You’ll see.