‘Lie with Me’ by Philippe Besson – eARC Book Review

Blurb from Goodreads

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 Review

First love is always such a pivotal moment in anyone’s life. It bewitches you. It nourishes you. It transforms you in such a way that you can never be what you were before. It’s the loss of innocence but the gaining of so much more…

It is the most timeless of love stories and this book perfectly encapsulates all the emotions that a young lover experiences.

When the adult Philippe sees a young man who bears a striking resemblance to his first love we are transported back to 1984 and the relationship that defined his life.

This short book is searingly beautiful.

It’s filled with the most beautifully lyrical prose that just reaches into your soul and holds you tightly in its grasp…

And yes it’s that Molly Ringwald that translated this!

The story explores issues of homophobia, social class divide, shame and the crippling fear that someone can live with when they are innocent victims of such. The pain that emanates from this book is almost exquisite in how I keenly felt it as a reader.

A powerfully intense literary novel that demands to be felt in your soul’s core and one that I highly recommend

Five stars.

An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Penguin UK, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Publishes Autumn 2019

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