Monday, February 01, 2021

Who Is Maud Dixon? - Alexandra Andrews

The soon-to-be-published Who Is Maud Dixon? is Alexandra Andrews’s debut novel. Andrews sets her novel inside the publishing worlds of New York and Paris, a setting she is familiar with from having herself worked in publishing in both cities in the past. The setting is, in fact, what first caught my attention about Who Is Maud Dixon?.


The novel’s two main characters are Florence Darrow, an entry-level editorial assistant, and Helen Wilcox, an author who’s recent pseudonymous (as Maud Dixon) novel has been a bestseller all over the world. Florence is too ambitious to put in the time required to rise through the ranks of publishing, so when she is offered a job as Helen Wilcox’s personal assistant, she jumps at it. Florence is always looking for an angle that will jump her to the front of the line, and now she is hoping that Helen will do just that by becoming both her friend and her mentor. However, that bit of naiveté is snatched from Florence as soon as she learns what a conniving and egocentric woman the real Maud Dixon really is. And that’s where it begins to get very complicated for both Helen and Florence. 


While on a sudden trip to Morocco with Helen to help research the second Maud Dixon novel, Florence wakes up in a hospital bed after an automobile accident she cannot remember. She is told by the policeman investigating the accident that she drove her car off the clifftop highway and into the sea below. She is only alive, he tells her, because a lone fisherman witnessed the accident and plucked her from the car before it sank to the bottom. But Florence is still confused. Where is Helen, and why is everyone in the hospital calling her Ms. Wilcox instead of by her own name?


So, is this Florence’s chance to jump not only to the front of the line but all the way into the life she has dreamed of living since she was a child? After all, Helen, despite the fact that her body has not been found inside the recovered car, is certainly dead. The only purse recovered from the vehicle belonged to Helen, and now authorities are assuming that it, along with Helen’s passport and driver’s license, are hers. If she doesn’t tell them that Helen was in the car with her that night, how will they ever know? Florence’s uncanny physical resemblance to the dead author makes it all the more likely that passing for Helen Wilcox/Maude Dixon will not be a problem. Hardly believing her good fortune, Florence steps into Helen’s shoes immediately - and she doesn’t intend to give them up despite the suspicious Moroccan copy who won’t go away. What could possibly go wrong?


Bottom Line: Who Is Maud Dixon? has so many twists and turns that at least border on the farfetched that the reader is required to have a significant willingness to suspend disbelief in order to make this one work. If the plot is good enough, or I enjoy the characters and setting enough, that is not necessarily a problem for me. But, frankly, both the main characters in this one are such high-level sociopaths that I was left with no one to root for. Think Patricia Highsmith’s Mr. Ripley character, and you will have some idea of what Florence and Helen are like. Highsmith, though, kept it real - and that makes all the difference in the world.


Review Copy provided by Publisher

10 comments:

  1. I was cracking up reading your review, as I do well with sociopaths in fiction LOL - I'm super curious now.

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    1. Ha...Diane, if you do well with sociopaths, you are going to LOVE this one because you get two Grade-A sociopaths for the price of one.

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  2. Sociopaths in fiction can be fun, but this may be a little too twisty and over-the-top for me. I enjoyed reading your review though.

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    1. I agree that sociopaths can be fun to read, especially when they are unreliable narrators - and they are trying to manipulate the reader's emotions as much as those of the characters.

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  3. I think I'll stick with Highsmith and skip this one.

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    1. Wise decision, Lark. It's hard to go too wrong with Highsmith.

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  4. Oh, man! I just heard about this one and thought it sounded really good. Bummer. Maybe I should try out Highsmith instead. I've never read her.

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    1. It sounded really good to me, too, when I was offered a copy, and the basic premise has a lot of promise, especially to people who are really into books. But the delivery is just not there...very slow start on top of all the other problems with having so many amoral characters in one storyline.

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  5. Replies
    1. I can honestly say, I don't think you'll be missing very much.

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