Who is Maud Dixon? follows the story of Florence Darrow, a young wannabe writer working in the publishing industry in New York. After losing her job, Florence finds herself faced with the opportunity of a lifetime: to become the assistant to her hero, the famously secretive best-selling novelist known only by her pseudonym, Maud Dixon.
Soon Florence is living her dream come true, working with the reclusive artist in a rambling countryside villa. For Florence it’s not only a chance to learn from her idol and work on the novel she was born to write, it’s her moment to reinvent herself. She willingly discards what she views as her mediocre, suburban persona, as she spends her evenings drinking Châteauneuf-du-Pape and learning to cook coq au vin. It all seems too idyllic to be true…which of course means there are some dark secrets waiting to be uncovered.
There is more than one sharp turn in this book. Just when you think you know what’s around the corner, Andrews throws in another curveball. Who is Maud Dixon? is a good, old-fashioned page-turner, and although we get a sense from the beginning that something sinister is cooking, it’s not clear until much later what sort of story this is – which is unsettling in an intriguing way.
The plot eventually takes us to Morocco, where Andrews’ descriptions are so rich and colourful you’ll feel like you are there. Here’s where the action really picks up, and the story becomes a classic mystery-thriller; a battle of wits complete with all the twists and turns bookworms desire.
Despite Florence not having a whole lot of likeable traits – she’s selfish, callous, resentful and entitled, I found myself getting behind her and her ruthless quest for success; a testament to the skill of the author. As with all well-constructed characters, Florence’s humanity is always evident, despite her questionable choices, and it’s this dichotomy that held my interest and made me want to keep reading long past lights-out.
Who is Maud Dixon? is out now.