Art Imitates Life

Georgetown LibraryStaff Picks

Art Imitates Life

Literary Fiction inspired by true events

Although the following Literary Fiction titles are indeed novels, each feels to some extent familiar, as all borrow from real life events.
Those events are diverse, ranging from crimes to crises, as are the ways in which the titles incorporate them, with some drawing on scenarios as well as the individuals involved and others borrowing from the real more sparingly. 
While none should be mistaken for factual accounts, all of these titles do get at cultural truths, speaking in their selection of subject matter to what fascinates the public imagination and investigating in their treatment of that subject matter ways of reckoning with such compelling, often troubling events from a distance.

The Girls by Emma Cline
In the summer of 1969, 14-year-old Evie Boyd crosses paths with a group of girls led by the slightly older Suzanne, becoming captivated by their difference. Joining them at the ranch where they and others live in thrall to leader Russell, Evie comes of age as events unfold that culminate in a crime reminiscent of that of Charles Manson and his followers.

The Fever by Megan Abbott
Based on the 2011 case in which a series of teenage girls in Le Roy, NY developed unexplained behavioral symptoms, Abbott’s novel follows 16-year-old Deenie Nash as her friends fall victim to mysterious, seizure-like episodes. As the small town in which they live grapples with the unsettling situation, Deenie and those close to her look inward, considering the significance of personal choices and past and recent events.

Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois
Studying abroad in Buenos Aires, 20-year-old Lily Hayes’ life changes abruptly when her roommate is murdered and she is charged with the crime. Echoing elements of the Amanda Knox case, duBois’ novel examines the situation from multiple perspectives, and it thereby explores both the mysteries of the crime -- and of Lily herself. 

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
Sittenfeld’s character study explores the interior life of titular wife Alice Lindgren, whose even temperament and major life events, from a tragic accident in her youth to her marriage into a political dynasty, recall former First Lady Laura Bush. 

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Drawing on lighter events, specifically the development of the relationship between Kate Middleton and Prince William, Cocks and Morgan’s novel chronicles the romance between American Rebecca “Bex” Porter and British Prince Nicholas, who connect as students at Oxford and attempt to navigate together the challenges that arise out of the (royal) differences in their circumstances.