Along with Daphne Du Maurier, Oscar Wilde, Rosamunde Pilcher and Joanne Harris, Joyce Maynard is one of my favourite writers in the world. I first came across her shortly after I started blogging, when I was sent a copy of Labour Day to review, which I absolutely loved. I later went on to read her heartbreaking memoir – The Best of Us – when I was living in LA, and last year I was lucky enough to take part in her memoir writing retreat on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. A life-changing experience that I will never forget, it shaped and honed my ability as a writer, and further affirmed my utter adoration for Joyce and her wonderful command of the written word. I’ve been meaning to read more of her books ever since the retreat finished, but alas, life – as it often does – got in the way. It was only when I realised that we were nearing the end of 2020 that I went about ordering one of her books, To Die For, that my dear friend Kari had recommended I read.
To Die For Book Review
A riveting read from the very first page, To Die For by Joyce Maynard is the sort of book that you read in a single sitting – and I did exactly that one sunny Spring afternoon lying on the rocks in Manly. The perfect blend of literary fiction and mystery, To Die For is a book about fidelity, sexual obsession, ambition, violence and the role that pop culture plays in society’s desire for gratification, self-fulfilment, and ultimately, love.
Loosely based on the true story of Pamela Smart, To Die For by Joyce Maynard tells the story of Suzanne Stone, an aspiring media journalist willing to do just about anything for the chance to get on TV. So, when devoted husband starts talking about starting a family and settling down, she knows that something has to change, and enlists the help of two teenage boys to plot his demise.
A multi-layered character, Suzanne is a sociopath, completely without conscience and a gifted manipulator. Her unreliability as a narrator adds an edge to the reader’s experience, and having such a flawed protagonist makes for a pacy read.
Told by multiple voices in an almost docudrama way, Maynard deftly weaves alternating accounts of each of the key characters o create a layered and rich plot that leaves the reader wanting more until its climatic finale.
Dark, witty and ahead of its time, To Die For is an unputdownable book that explores the lengths to which people will go for their chance at fame and fortune.
To Die For Summary
When her husband is shot dead by her teenage boyfriend, would-be television journalist Suzanne Maretto steps into the role of grieving widow with a brilliant performance. But few suspect her dark side. This chilling novel of ambition and sexual obsession goes behind the mask of an apple-pie beauty to probe the sinister manipulations of a mesmerizing femme fatale.
Joyce Maynard Author Bio
Joyce Maynard first came to national attention with the publication of her New York Times cover story “An Eighteen-Year-Old Looks Back on Life” in 1973, when she was a freshman at Yale. Since then, she has been a reporter and columnist for The New York Times, a syndicated newspaper columnist whose “Domestic Affairs” column appeared in more than fifty papers nationwide, a regular contributor to NPR. Her writing has also been published in national magazines, including O, The Oprah Magazine; Newsweek; The New York Times Magazine; Forbes; Salon; San Francisco Magazine, USA Weekly; and many more. She has appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Charlie Rose, and on Fresh Air. Essays of hers appear in numerous collections. She has been a fellow at Yaddo, UCross, and The MacDowell Colony, where she wrote her most recently published novel, Labor Day.
The author of many books of fiction and nonfiction, including the novel To Die For (in which she also plays the role of Nicole Kidman’s attorney) and the bestselling memoir, At Home in the World, Maynard makes her home in Mill Valley, California. Her novel, The Usual Rules—a story about surviving loss—has been a favorite of book club audiences of all ages, and was chosen by the American Library Association as one of the ten best books for young readers for 2003.
Joyce Maynard also runs the Lake Atitlan Writing Workshop in Guatemala, founded in 2002.
More Joyce Maynard Books
If you loved To Die For, you might also enjoy: The Best of Us, Under the Influence, At Home in the World, The Good Daughters, The Usual Rules, Labour Day, After her and The Cloud Chamber.