Translated from French by Teresa Lavender Fagan
Laura, a successful TV journalist realises that she is in trouble the day that C walks into the office dressed as her. The red flag is raised not by the dressing up per se, but by C’s statement that she has come to the office AS Laura, not like her. It is a signal that C intends to take over her identity, a threat that would disconcert Laura, for someone is already running a fake facebook account in her name.
Soon Laura, despite being in a happy heterosexual relationship, is being bombarded with middle of the night phone calls and love emails from C, who insists that Laura reciprocates her feelings. A little research reveals that C is suffering from De Clerambault syndrome (erotomania), a delusional disorder, triggered when the object of their affection allegedly sends special messages to the sufferer. In Laura’s case, it was the “meaningful” look she gave C at a book signing. The experts tell Laura to cut all contact, as there is only one possible ending. One or the other must die!
Admittedly this is hard to do, as both women work at the same television station: C in the job Laura helped her get (more special treatment!), Laura as the host of a talk show specialising in psychological issues. Besides, this De Clerambault syndrome might just provide excellent fodder for a new novel. Laura wants to understand, and so agrees to meet C. As C realises that all she can expect is to be rebuffed, she switches from lovebombing to more machiavellian strategies. She intends to destroy. Might this be a case of Laura’s curiosity killing the cat?
Noiville’s tale is slowed down only by the inclusion of Laura’s research. Even so, it zips along at a fair old pace and its 190 pages are soon turned. I would quite happily have read 190 more!
Recommended for fans of Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love.