The Double Life of Liliane by Lily Tuck
Atlantic Monthly Press, 2015; 256 pp
Reviewed by Charlie Riccardelli


Lily Tuck’s The Double Life of Liliane is a cold and steely book, a novel that blends autobiography and fiction to create a story that’s distant, like the author assembled it from a sociological study. Tuck’s literary persona Liliane feels plucked from Françoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse, a novel referenced several times in The Double Life of Liliane. Like the female protagonist of Bonjour Tristesse, Liliane is something of a budding jet setter, born in Europe to a German father who produces movies in Italy and a mother who lives in America. Not anchored to one place, Liliane lives much of her early life as a girl of two continents, growing and learning about her family’s varied, complicated histories. The Double Life of Liliane features such rich, historical detail and finely blends truth and fiction that it may entice the reader to browse the internet to fact check, especially as the book detaches itself emotionally from anything that happens in the story and it’s hard to invest much interest. This clinical approach to storytelling is not helped by the way Tuck navigates through time like she’s still assembling a memory.