Book review: You Lost Me by Marita van der Vyver

You Lost Me by Marita van der Vyver (first published in 2017 by Penguin Random House South Africa)

I grew up with Marita van der Vyver's books. Who could forget "Griet skryf 'n Sprokie" and "Die Ongeloflike Avonture van Hanna Hoekom"? I've always adored her sense of humour and witty writing.

Her latest novel, You Lost Me, is set in Paris and follows the footsteps of a disillusioned writer.  Having been the latter myself, and recently walked along the Seine and managed to find my words again, I just couldn't resist picking this one off the shelves.

As always, Marita doesn't disappoint.

Willem Prins is an Afrikaans author with plummeting book sales.  He heads to Paris to celebrate one of his novels that has been translated into French. Except, he is embarrassed to admit he even wrote this particular piece of trashy erotica. 

Of course, he did it for the money (this genre never disappoints the author's pocket - think 50 Shades of Grey), but now, back in the literary heart of the world, he feels a deep depression grip its hands around his neck.

This is the city where his ex-wife and son lives, the place where he has always felt at home, and yet now, in the wintery rain he has never felt more alone.  He considers drowning himself in the Seine, Virginia Woolf style, but then fate steps in and offers Willem a second chance. 

The story is woven around the terror attacks that took place in Paris, and how something so terrible can bring a grown man back from his knees. The book is easy to read, and although you feel sorry for Willem, at times you can't help but laugh out loud. 

Then from that giddiness, your heart stops as you remember that deathly Friday the thirteenth, and how it changed the lives of so many Parisians forever.  You Lost Me is a work of art from one of South Africa's most beloved authors. 

Even though Marita now lives in France (which made her imagery of Paris spot-on), her books will always have a thread of home running through them.

Read more of Michelle’s reviews on her blog.

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