What are books good for, if they don’t make us feel alive, if they can’t make us live it more intensely? – Henry Miller
I found out about The Girl on Paper by Guillaume Musso by chance, and I read it because of its title and cover. Now, when I look at the book, all those happy feelings come back to me. All those whispered words that made me feel hugged and fulfilled…
Tom Boyd is a successful writer who seems to have it all: talent, fame, love. But, as it often happens, life turns the tables on him. After living a dream time with the pianist Aurore Valancourt, considered “one of the most talented musicians of her generation”, Tom is deeply hurt by her and falls into a deep depression. He loses his interest in writing and living, for that matter. He becomes a kind of a living dead person. In this state of mind (and soul) we find Tom at the beginning of the story. He is trapped in a dark world, without hope, without strength to get up and move forward.
You can give many things to those you love. Words, peace, pleasure. You have given me the most precious thing of all: lack. It was impossible for me to stay away from you. Even when I had you in front of me, I was missing you. – Christian Bobin
Then, Billie appears as if by magic. She is a character detached from his novel, literally. The fantasy begins to weave into reality, making us wonder if it’s just a dream, Tom’s imagination, or reality. But how could it be?
In order to prove that she tells the truth, that she is one of the main characters of Tom’s trilogy, Billie challenges him to ask her questions whose answers only the character might know. Thus, Tom accepts that miracles can happen. Billie had fallen from an unfinished sentence, the second novel of the trilogy, which was also unfinished. The series of one thousand copies of the edition go on sale with a printing defect, so they get withdrawn to be destroyed. One single novel is saved and Billie’s life is clinging on it and on the Trilogy’s completion, of course. Billie has to help the author to complete the story so that she can return to fiction.
If at first I thought that everything happened in Tom’s imagination, that I was reading a fantasy story and that Tom’s character fell from his book, the finale took me completely by surprise. I was there, among the characters, I lived the story entirely. I saw it all with my mind. I knew that Billie would be saved somehow, but I never expected the situation to turn around as it did.
Guillaume Musso was able to play with words at the end of the book. He succeeded with such subtlety to instill some ideas in the reader’s mind, that all expectations were exceeded.
I strongly recommend you read this book. If you love books, if you want to escape reality for several hundred pages, then The Girl on Paper is the perfect choice!
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