On of those “international bestsellers” that people read because they are “international bestsellers”: but how did it become so? An “international bestseller”? The sudden death of the author’s husband starts the book off and this is dealt with unsentimentally and in a measured way, and so commands the reader’s respect and empathy. The book’s central conceit, that the year following the death of a loved one lends itself to ways of thinking that are irrational but meaningful, thereby magical, is a strong one. Didion manages to create a thoughtful and original book on the subject; but is it a novel as opposed to a memoir? What makes such a book a novel? The fact that it has been elaborately structured in order to best relate a specific aspect of the human condition? Perhaps.