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8 June 2015

Review: 'Based On a True Story' by Elizabeth Renzetti (2015)

It might not have happened precisely that way...

Fresh out of rehab, badly behaved diva Augusta Price has one last chance to turn her life around. Her memoir, Based on a True Story, has become an unlikely hit, and she's going to use that fame to start afresh. But Augusta is her own worst enemy.

Augusta discovers that her former lover is planning a tell-all book of his own. Enraged - and concerned that perhaps her version of events may not have been the most accurate - Augusta decides to ensure that her story is the only one that will see the light of day.

Aided and abetted by Frances, her newly employed ghostwriter, Augusta finds her way back to California, and to her lost love. It's time to face up to her past: something that will be the making - or breaking - of Augusta Price.

I hadn't heard or read anything about Elizabeth Renzetti's novel 'Based On a True Story' before I found an unexpected review copy in my mailbox. The book was released by Corvus on the 2nd of April 2015 and is the debut novel of The Globe and Mail columnist Elizabeth Renzetti. I had a quick look around the Internet for some more information on the novel and the author and quickly found many positive comments on the author's own writing style and her distinctive columns. Even though I wasn't too sure the novel would really be my cup of tea, I wanted to give it a chance and a few weeks ago I found the time to finally sit down with it!

Augusta Price wants nothing more than to be in the spotlight, but it seems she has left her best years, during which she was a big soap star loved by the UK audience, behind her and people just aren't interested anymore. Augusta keeps making mistakes and ruining everything, mainly because after several stints in rehab she still can't control her drinking problem. When her memoir unexpectedly becomes a big hit, Augusta wants to use that fame to get back on top. But when she discovers her ex-lover is about to release his own story, Augusta knows she has to do something to stop him. She hires journalist Frances who has just been fired to help her write another book, while deciding they are going to California to confront Augusta's ex, and perhaps some other things from her past, once and for all.

'Based On a True Story' is quite a quick read with about 320 pages, and also quite an original read. Author Elizabeth Renzetti definitely has her own voice which suits this kind of story well. The book focuses mainly on fading actress Augusta Price and how she tries to get back into the spotlight. I personally had some real difficulty warming to Augusta. She's a complex character; on the one hand it was really easy to dislike her (she's selfish, a true addict, rude), but on the other hand I did find myself rooting for her and wanting her to succeed and find some form of happiness. I did really like Frances, the journalist whom Augusta hires, and I would have loved to have read more about her background and character. 

I was fascinated by the story and definitely wanted to finish it, curious to see what would happen. However, quite a few aspects of the novel remain unresolved. Of course this provides the reader with the chance to fill in some of the blanks by themselves, but it did bother me a bit in this case. 'Based On a True Story' is basically a tale about two different women who find each other at a point in their lives when they have hit a low and need to try and pick themselves up again. It's a witty, quick, and unique read with characters that will stay with me for some time to come (either in a good or bad way). It wasn't entirely my read, but I did enjoy it in a way, and I'm sure other readers will as well.
For more information about this book: / / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

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