There is no doubt that nasty characters can make for difficult reading. Uncouth behavior makes it difficult for readers to fully immerse themselves into the story; it also makes it difficult to sympathize with and therefore care about those characters and their plights. However, quite often, those with horrible main characters make for some of the most interesting reading. Such is the case with The Other Story.
Nicolas is quite simply a jerk. He is rude, arrogant, and self-obsessed. He thinks nothing of using his name and his looks to get his way. In fact, he is one of those people who uses the retort, “Don’t you know who I am?” to demand the best of everything and anything. Yet, as obnoxious as he is, his vacation in Italy provides him the opportunity to realize that life is more than likes on Facebook or retweets from Twitter followers. Ms. de Rosnay uses this self-reflection to allow readers to learn about his rise to fame and the story – both personal and fictionalized – that took him there. At first, the family secrets are not as shocking as one expects, but as Nicholas peels back the layers and digs deeper into his own psyche, those secrets become more intricate and ultimately quite shocking.
It is this reviewer’s experience that Ms. de Rosnay’s novels do not translate well into audiobooks. The pacing is too slow, and a majority of the action is purely cerebral, making it a somewhat excruciating listening experience. In print, the story flows much more smoothly, allowing readers to pause and reflect, take a break from negative reactions towards Nicholas, and appreciate the sentence structure that appears simplistic but is in actuality very nuanced. In The Other Story, she not only details the price of fame but also the long-lasting impact of family secrets and does so with little fanfare or drama. It’s an impressive piece of fiction that feels very true-to-life.