The Paper Wasp by Lauren Acampora

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An electrifying debut novel of two women’s friendship, a haunting obsession and twisted ambition, set against the feverish backdrop of contemporary Hollywood.

Abby Graven is a dreamer. She dreams her way through her small, lonely life – hiding back at her parents, working at the grocery store. At night, she collects tabloid clippings that taunt her with Elise – her best friend, now Hollywood’s hot new starlet.

When a school reunion throws Elise in her path, Abby seizes her chance. With feverish certainty, she boards a one-way flight to LA to become Elise’s assistant and enters her gauzy realm of film sets and glamorous actors.

But behind Elise’s glossy magazine veneer, she is drowning in Hollywood’s vicious social cycle. Ever the devoted friend, Abby conceals her own burning desire for greatness.

For she is smarter than Elise. More talented. A true artist. And as she edges closer to her own ambitions, Abby can see only one way to make her dream come true.

Propelled by seductive, unstoppable force, The Paper Wasp slashes through the dark side of Hollywood and the treacherous intimacies of female friendship, pursuing a heroine of blazing artistic vision and blinding drive.

My Review

Two childhood best friends, Abby and Elise having taken different paths following school   drifted apart and lost contact meet up again at their 10 year school reunion. Whilst Abby still lives at home with her parents after dropping out of college and working in the local supermarket, Elise now lives in California and has become a famous Hollywood actress. Told from Abby’s point of view it follows both women as they rekindle their friendship.

Abby has been following Elises career which would be natural being that they were once best friends but it soon becomes apparent that Abby is not just a fan or friend, she is dangerously obsessed and jealous of her old friend. She takes the label super fan to whole new level.

At the reunion after a few too many drinks Elise invites Abby to come and visit her in LA, it was more of a polite throwaway comment as opposed to a genuine invite. A few weeks later Abby turns up on Elise’s doorstep and the short visit turns into a long term stay and Abby becomes Elise’s personal assistant, integrating herself into every aspect of Elise’s life.

Some of the narration is told via Abby’s dreams and visions bringing a whole other level to the story which follows the women friendships which turns into something dark and complex. The whole story is filled with jealously, obsession, ambitions, desires and mental health issues.

The book is extremely well written, filled with vivid descriptions that make the whole story come to life in your minds eye. The characters are complex, relatable at times as well as a little disturbing. Neither women are particularly likeable but that’s what makes this book so great.

A complex, character driven plot with a dark chilling plot line that comes to life on the pages. The writing style and storyline may not be to everyone’s liking, I think this book will be a bit like marmite, you will either love it or hate it!

The Paper Wasp will be published in the UK on 13 June 2019 and can be preordered now. I highly recommend it to literally everyone so you can judge for yourself.

A big thank you to the writer Lauren Acampora, publishers Grove Atlantic and Quercus, and NetGalley for my digital advance copy in exchange for an honest and independent review.

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