The Other Story Review
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Unabridged Audiobook: 8 CDs (10 hours)
Read by Simon Vance

It’s often been said that writers should write what they know—which is why authors are so often the protagonists in novels. Some solve crimes. Some find inspiration. And many—like the main character in Tatiana De Rosnay’s twisting seaside audiobook, The Other Story—struggle to repeat past successes.

The story follows best-selling author and international celebrity Nicolas Duhamel on a luxurious Italian vacation with his girlfriend, Malvina. Though he’s supposed to be finishing up his next big hit, Nicolas has a deep, dark secret: he hasn’t even started it. He just can’t seem to find the inspiration to move on from the story that changed his life forever.

As he basks under the Tuscan sun—all while trying to escape the clutches of his increasingly clingy girlfriend—Nicolas reflects on the events that led to the writing of his first novel and the changes that his life has undergone ever since.

From its posh, exclusive setting to its refined, relaxed narration, The Other Story is a smooth and stylish novel—but that doesn’t mean that it’s purely a story about the pampered lifestyles of the wealthy and fabulous. There is a bit of that, of course, as Nicolas is wined and dined, spoiled and seduced—but it soon becomes all too clear that Nicolas’s excesses are beginning to take their toll on both his personal and professional lives. He’s become so self-obsessed that his best friend won’t speak to him—and even his mother isn’t returning his calls. And as he tries to keep his publishers and publicists (and his girlfriend) happy, it’s only a matter of time until his deep, dark secrets come bobbing up to the surface.

At the same time, the occasional revelations about Nicolas’s past give the story just a hint of mystery. As the story meanders around chronologically, in a kind of stream of thought character study, it gradually details the personal journey that inspired his best-selling novel—one that revolves around his father’s mysterious birth and equally mysterious death. And those are, by far, the novel’s best moments.

The drama and mystery of the story make for an interesting read—and that helps to make the main character easier to endure. After all, Nicolas isn’t an especially likable character; quite the opposite, in fact. His family and friends have given up on him for some very good reasons: he’s pompous and vain and self-absorbed. But his history—and the events that play out around him during his lavish getaway—will keep readers from giving up on him, too.

Laid-back and smooth, with an intriguing premise, The Other Story definitely isn’t an action-packed thriller, but it’s the relaxed kind of read that many of us seek out during the summer. So if you’re looking for an easy-going novel to take along on your own seaside vacation (just don’t listen when the kids are around—or use your headphones when they are—since it tends to be quite graphic at times), The Other Story could be one worth exploring.

Listen to the audio review on Shelf Discovery:

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