Lie With Me

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Member Reviews

This is a beautiful short novel, working through first love / sexual awakening and onto the loss and betrayal of youth. I was previously unaware of Besson, and only after did the meta-textual elements come to my attention; the suggestion that this may (or may not) be based on the author’s experiences unexpectedly hit me like a punch (and i now want to read novels referred to in the later stages of the book).

Told from the perspective of the adult looking back on his experiences, and later questioning his own reliability (memoir? Novel?), the emotional and physical connection to his younger self is palpable. If initially it feels a little “call me by your name”, the diversions Besson takes on the way set it apart - this is a superior novel in my mind.

That Molly Ringwald is now a translator is a surprise too...!
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This was so convincingly written that I'm still not entirely sure that it is fiction. Nevertheless Lie With Me is a beautiful novella from beginning to end. Though at times I did feel that the text was oddly old fashioned when it came to depicting sexual encounters I do understand some liberties may have been taken in translation. That said I did think that the translative work was phenomenal, allowing what must be truly poetic prose shine through in any language. Quite frankly I'll be very surprised if it isn't adapted for film in future.
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A sad story of a wasted life and a potential for love which is drained away - but while homophobia is the most acute obstacle in the book, class differences and economic considerations, though understated, also play a part. 

Written as a memoir, the narrator recalls his past love for Thomas and analyses it from the mature standpoint of his present. It's intimate and captures the awkwardness and obsessions of youth, the all-encompassing headiness of first love - shaded by the future in proleptic style.

Besson captures the dynamics of erotic love, the tides of power, the willing submission, the elusive nature of the beloved. This is a short read, easily completed in a few hours - and I'd say it benefits from an intense immolation in its heated atmosphere. By the end, Thomas had achieved a kind of tragic intensity for me: 'it's a fear of himself too. A fear of what he is.'

(I've posted a fuller review on Goodreads)
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Lie With Me is a novel about a first love and looking back at the past. A chance encounter in a hotel makes Philippe, a writer, think back to his teenage years in the 80s and the secret love between him and his classmate Thomas. Philippe reflects on how he was then and how Thomas saw him, particularly how Thomas saw that they were destined to go in different directions in life.

This short novel is lyrical and reflective, self-consciously about writing and memory. Its length gives it a real focus, with the sense of being told a very specific story from someone's life rather than a wider narrative, and this brings it an intimacy that suits the love story and personal reflection at its heart. Comparisons with Call Me By Your Name and the fact the English translation of this French book is by Molly Ringwald will bring added interest to this short novel that can be read in one sitting, and you could imagine it as a film, with a backdrop of French countryside and 80s fashion.
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