Lie With Me by Philippe Besson (Book Review)

40539136DIVERSE READ: M/M relationship

Genres: Fiction 

Summary: The award-winning, bestselling French novel by Philippe Besson about an affair between two teenage boys in 1984 France, translated with subtle beauty and haunting lyricism by the iconic and internationally acclaimed actress/writer Molly Ringwald. 

We drive at high speed along back roads, through woods, vineyards, and oat fields. The bike smells like gasoline and makes a lot of noise, and sometimes I’m frightened when the wheels slip on the gravel on the dirt road, but the only thing that matters is that I’m holding on to him, that I’m holding on to him outside.

Just outside a hotel in Bordeaux, Philippe chances upon a young man who bears a striking resemblance to his first love. What follows is a look back at the relationship he’s never forgotten, a hidden affair with a gorgeous boy named Thomas during their last year of high school. Without ever acknowledging they know each other in the halls, they steal time to meet in secret, carrying on a passionate, world-altering affair.

Dazzlingly rendered in English by Ringwald in her first-ever translation, Besson’s powerfully moving coming-of-age story captures the eroticism and tenderness of first love—and the heartbreaking passage of time.

My thoughts: Lie With Me is a melancholic slice-of-life story that can be read during one rainy weekend. This quick read is about two high school boys, Philippe and Thomas, who run in two very different crowds. That is until one day when they decide to have an affair. During their brief relationship, that was kept secret from the world, they form an unlikely bond with one another but are eventually separated by life, time, and space. This story follows the different paths they took after their affair and how Philippe clings onto that love that they once had, throughout his adult life, because it made the biggest impact on him.

For fans of Call Me by Your Name, I’d highly recommend this novel, but be warned: it is just as sad as CMBYN. I also have to say that this novel does not have the wondrous prose of CMBYN that both inspires and instills sadness in one’s heart. The writing is much more simplistic, but it has this overwhelming nostalgia and longing that breathes through the pages of the book. You feel how much Philippe misses Thomas and wonders “what if” throughout the course of his life. This is one of those novels that will leave you breathless and sad at the same time, but I’m glad I read it. It was a great book to pick up on a whim, but it didn’t impact me or leave a lasting impression like Call Me by Your Name did, probably, because the story itself was much shorter and showed brief glimpses into Philippe’s life. What did hit me the most was the fact that, after I had set the book down, I realized that Philippe is the author’s name, so he is basically sharing a piece of his life to his audience, and that alone makes the story much more impactful and heartbreaking all the same.

TW: suicide  

Book Info: Goodreads Barnes and Noble | Amazon

** I received a free physical ARC of this novel from Scribner in exchange for an honest review. **