An electrifying debut novel from the acclaimed author of The Wonder Garden, The Paper Wasp is a riveting knife-edge story of two women’s dark friendship of twisted ambition set against the backdrop of contemporary Hollywood In small-town Michigan, Abby Graven leads a solitary life. Once a bright student on the cusp of a promising art career, she now languishes in her childhood home, trudging to and from her job as a supermarket cashier. Each day she is taunted from the magazine racks by the success of her former best friend Elise, a rising Hollywood starlet whose life in pictures Abby obsessively scrapbooks. At night Abby escapes through the films of her favorite director, Auguste Perren, a cult figure known for his creative institute the Rhizome. Inspired by Perren, Abby draws fantastical storyboards based on her often premonitory dreams, a visionary gift she keeps hidden.
When Abby encounters Elise again at their high school reunion, she is surprised and warmed that Elise still considers her not only a friend but a brilliant storyteller and true artist. Elise’s unexpected faith in Abby reignites in her a dormant hunger, and when Elise offhandedly tells Abby to look her up if she’s ever in LA, Abby soon arrives on her doorstep. There, Abby discovers that although Elise is flourishing professionally, behind her glossy magazine veneer she is lonely and disillusioned. Ever the supportive friend, Abby becomes enmeshed in Elise’s world, even as she guards her own dark secret and burning desire for greatness. As she edges closer to Elise, the Rhizome, and her own artistic ambitions, the dynamic shifts between the two friends–until Abby can see only one way to grasp the future that awaits her.
The Paper Wasp is a thrilling, unexpected journey into the psyche and imagination of a woman determined to fulfill her destiny from one of our most unique and incisive writers.
The Paper Wasp is a brilliantly dark and twisted story of the obsessions and sinister behaviour of one woman, fuelled by the culmination of unhealed childhood trauma; the abrupt absence of her closest and only friend, leaving her emotionally immature and unable to move on from the person she was in high school, and, quite possibly Schizophrenia which is predominantly displayed throughout the book by Abby’s many prophetic dreams and visions which she is led by and from her delusions of grandeur.
The story is told entirely looking back, almost in the style of a letter from Abby to Elise in the aftermath of all that unfolded. Although I didn’t find either of the two main characters particularly likeable, I cared about what happened to each of them and I absolutely did not see that ending coming or the build up to it.
This book is compulsive reading and kept me guessing, I powered through it in two short sittings. Lauren Acampora is an exceptionally skilled writer, her style is so eloquent yet highly accessible, making what could have been an uncomfortable read an extremely enjoyable one.
☆☆☆☆☆ 5 Stars
Thank you so much toto Ana at Quercus for The Paper Wasp.