I love France #7: #70 Review: An Accident in August


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An Accident in August


Laurence Cossé

192 p.

Translated by Alison Anderson

Published by Europa Editions on Aug 30, 2011

This book counts for


If you were in France or at least in Europe on August 31, 1997, you probably remember how all the news focused for weeks on the event leading to Lady Diana’s death.

In An Accident in August, Laurence Cossé uses the accident, but with a very smart and original twist.
Not sure this ever showed up in the news back then, but her basic theory for the plot of the book is that the fast driving drunken chauffeur crashed into the bridge because he tried to avoid a car which was unfortunately too well respecting the speed limit in that area – which is extremely rare, as you know if you have ever driven in those Parisian areas and in the périphériques. (If you are looking for a sense of danger and adventure, try it!)

So the book is about Lou the driver of that slow car.
Seeing that she had involuntarily caused an accident, fearful about the consequences, she fled. And from then on, her life was totally changed, with all the consequences from trying to hide, to lie, and to escape, and all the while entangling herself into dramatic events.

If was a delightful short read, as for all books published by Europa Editions I have read so far. I enjoyed very much the suspense in it, and its message: whatever you do may have some long lasting consequences.

So how are you living your life? Do you take time to reflect and measure before doing this or that? Of course, you often don’t know where an action is first going to lead you, but once the machine is rolling, and you see the road it takes, what do you do: do you let it go until it eventually crashes? or do you try to stir it in another direction?


In An Accident in August, Laurence Cossé takes one of the most famous news events of recent world history as the starting point for a novel as intelligent as it is gripping. On the now infamous night of August 31, 1997, a young woman’s life is thrown into turmoil when fortune places her at the scene of the fatal car crash in which Lady Diana Frances Spencer, then Princess of Wales, lost her life.

Scared and alone, she flees the scene of the accident. While there are no immediate repercussions resulting from her flight, as news of the tragic event spreads and TV stations, papers and radio talk of nothing else for days, she is assailed by a growing sense of guilt. Terrified of being found out, questioned, arrested, and thrown headfirst into a media whirlwind, she finds herself paralyzed by fear, paranoia, and a growing sense of remorse.

Wonderfully paced, suspenseful and dramatic, An Accident in August is the story of an ordinary person radically changed by her chance involvement in an extraordinary event. She unwittingly becomes a part of history. Yet history itself, not to mention the police and the media, ultimately fails to identify her, and she remains a figure cloaked in mystery. [Goodreads]


She was first a journalist in the French newspaper Le Quotidien de Paris and then at the French public radio France Culture. Most of her novels have been published by the French publishing house Gallimard. [Goodreads]. She aslo published A Novel Bookstore, which I highly recommend.




6 thoughts on “I love France #7: #70 Review: An Accident in August

  1. Pingback: September 2011 wrap up « Words And Peace

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  3. Pingback: My review #41 of: A Novel Bookstore | Words And Peace

  4. Pingback: Throwback Thursday: September 2011 | Words And Peace

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