Based on a True Story by Elizabeth Renzetti

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Based on a True Story by Elizabeth Renzetti

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sophie Diamond
Reviewed by Sophie Diamond
Summary: Fun, relevant and seriously witty. A pure pleasure to read.
Buy? Yes. Borrow? Yes.
Pages: 306 Date: April 2015
Publisher: Corvus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1782395539

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Augusta Price, middle-aged, washed up, substance-addicted actress has just left rehab for the innumerable time. Her only friend in the world is her equally washed up former mentor. Augusta has recently received a sudden upsurge of interest and income when her tell-all memoir became a baffling best-seller. Frances Bleeker is an American journalist who came to London with high hopes, that were quickly dashed by the reality of the British magazine market. The two meet when Frances is sent to interview Augusta about her book where Frances realises there’s far more to the story of Augusta’s life than she’s cared to put in words. Needless to say, young, optimistic Frances and self-obsessed, drunk Augusta don’t exactly hit it off at once. But when Frances loses her job and Augusta needs a ghost writer for her new book, the two offer each other a lifeline ... or enough rope to hang themselves. As Frances will learn by delving into her past, people close to Augusta don’t come away unscathed.

This book is funny. Renzetti comes out with some corking one liners and absurd situations. Augusta and her sidekick Alma reminded so much of Eddie and Patsy from the British sitcom Absolutely Fabulous (which I loved). Darling aside, they’re two older women running through life as though they’re still in their hey-day, making a massive mess of everything. But unlike Ab Fab, you get to see the actual mess having a mum like Augusta makes of your life. The damage someone as ego-centric as Augusta inflicts is not shied away from, even though the story stays determinedly light. In that way, the story works on multiple levels, it’s a fun romp and a character study. You can read it one way, the other or both, however you read it, you can’t deny it’s impressive.

I really liked the story’s premise of the memoir. I don’t know about you, but I’m completely guilty of watching a biopic or a documentary drama 'based on a true story' and thinking I now know everything about the situation. This book confronts this culture of thinking in a hilarious way. Augusta’s memoir is a selection of highly edited memories that barely resemble the true story they were based on. Augusta lives her life by re-editing the past, always showing herself in a better light. She does this so compulsively that by the end she truly believes her own version of the truth. When she’s forced to confront this with the figures she re-written (or written out) of her story, can she be redeemed?

I thought this book was great. Renzetti is a seriously talented author, showing that a fun story can be well-written and entertaining and intelligent, something that is often forgotten in the female genre.

If you want to read more stories about deviant women try Any Way You Want Me by Lucy Diamond.

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Buy Based on a True Story by Elizabeth Renzetti at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Based on a True Story by Elizabeth Renzetti at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Based on a True Story by Elizabeth Renzetti at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Based on a True Story by Elizabeth Renzetti at


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