Joan Didion is a writer I have wanted to read for a very long time, mostly because another writer I love reads her religiously. Because of this, when I got to Paris I started looking out for her name. I didn’t find it until one grey and exhausting morning midway through a December holiday, in a cozy English-language book store in Krakow, for the price of a black coffee.
This book is breathtaking for so many reasons. It is written so intriguingly, so secretively, that it felt like a mystery. The reader is thrown into the middle of the story and Didion quietly, deftly, takes you by the hand, and leads you out through a story of such proportion, but such intimacy. This book is one of those very rare stories where the last line is as beautiful, as aching as the first, if not more. This is something I always hope to find at the end of a book, and almost never do.
It is a love story, but you do not know that until the end. And the end of the story is not really the end. Because my favourite thing about this book, is that once you reach the end, you will reassess everything you have read, turn over and reexamine every single event, hint and secretive phrase and realize that without your knowledge, you have really been reading a very different story to the one that you thought you were. It is a book worth reading, and rereading. The technique is incredible, but more than that, it is so many stories at once, each that will make you yearn and long and celebrate with characters that feel more like real people. You do not leave this story behind when you finish it. I come back to it, again and again. It’s a story worth coming back to.