An Accident in August by Laurence Cosse (translated by Alison Anderson)
Published: 2011 by Europa Editions
Source: Received from publisher for review
In probably the most well-known traffic accident of history, Princess Diana, her boyfriend, Dodi al Fayed, and their driver were killed when their Mercedes crashed in a Paris tunnel. The paparazzi ruthlessly stalking the Princess were blamed for the accident, but what if there was another cause? What if a car driving slowly in front of the Mercedes spurred the driver to try to pass it, in turn losing control of the car? This is the scenario speculated on in Laurence Cosse’s latest novel translated into English, An Accident in August.
The young woman driving the slow moving Fiat Uno, named Lou, knows she was in an accident in the tunnel as she was returning home from work late Saturday night, but it is not until the next day when she hears about Diana’s death that she realizes the implications of her leaving the scene. Video surveillance in the tunnel eventually reveals the existence of a Fiat Uno in the crash scene, and the search begins for the car and its owner. Lou makes some impulsive decisions in her effort to avoid association with this global news event.
I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect of this novel, as I didn’t want to read a re-hash of a 14-year old news story. But I was pleasantly surprised with the direction Laurence Cosse took the story; sure, Diana’s death is the crux of the plot, but the story is essentially about Lou’s escape, not only from the accident’s aftermath but from her unsatisfactory life as well. And her flight at times reads like a thriller; especially when she encounters a shady car repairman who has visions of the dollar signs Lou’s version of the story can bring.
The publisher of An Accident in August, Europa Editions, generously sent me an additional copy of the novel which I would like to give away to a lucky reader (open internationally!) Simply leave a comment below with your e-mail address and on Saturday, September 17, I will randomly select a winner.