... equal parts poignant tribute and glaring warning ... it's unclear just how much of the narrative is novel and how much fact. As with all good literature, it doesn't really matter ... both banal and deeply thrilling ... It's a tribute – to first love, especially those first loves which prove immutable and enduring. It will resonate with anyone who has felt love, which is to say all of us. And it's a tribute to the 1980s, which this autobiographical novel conjures in all their awkward, awful innocence ... Despite the emotional restraint, the narrator is full of deeply felt and well-articulated feelings, and these emerge in his many reflective musings and asides. This glimpse at a character's interiority helped mitigate the repellent silence of their cool and tough exteriors. Indeed, it is those sparse spaces of deepest feeling that provide the story's most powerful and beautiful moments ... achieves a respectful balance, reminding us of the powerful and destructive impact of such attitudes, while implicitly hinting at the beauty of a better, more open way ... ultimately, it's simply a beautiful and poignant love story, a short and very French tale whose sparse, delicate prose is gorgeously translated by Molly Ringwald, retaining all of its heart-stopping power. If one can look past the tough-guy facades of the main characters – and Besson's vivid first-person narration does wonders at revealing the churning thoughts and repressed feelings hiding behind such exteriors – one can easily lose oneself in this gorgeously resurrected memory of '80s love, with all its awkward beauty and lost innocence.
It's not a groundbreaking book, but it's certainly an enjoyable one ... Readers with a taste for innovative plots will likely be disappointed with Lie With Me. The storyline is a well-worn one ... Besson renders Philippe beautifully, though, giving the boy a real sense of self-awareness ... Lie with Me succeeds as a novel because of Besson's graceful writing, beautifully translated by Ringwald. Besson is a gifted stylist, and he infuses Philippe's story with the right notes of sadness and longing ... lovely.
The work’s simplicity dissolves as the narrative unfolds, though, and it becomes clear that Besson’s written a thoughtful examination of the ways social class shapes the experience and memory of love ... [Lie With Me] brings to life the pain and endurance of a population that’s been suffering attacks on social welfare and living conditions for decades ... This kind of narrative’s well worn, and a large part of what makes Lie With Me memorable is the novel’s experimental form ... Molly Ringwald’s spare translation of the novel is moving ... Introspective and evocative, Lie With Me is an absorbing story about passionate love thwarted by class differences and homophobia. The slim novel takes on a great deal in a short amount of space and establishes Molly Ringwald as a skilled translator.
Is it autofiction? ... Whatever it is, the story — imbued with the sprightliness of youth, the nostalgia of age, the deep internal echoes of regret — is all true, even if it’s not true ... this synopsis reeks of André Aciman’s Call Me by Your Name... where Aciman’s novel flashes in the heat and salt of summer, Besson’s is soaked in heavy, sodden gray ... Lie With Me unpeels like a springy orange ... Lie With Me is single-minded in its focus, spare but lucid in its descriptions ... The intimacy is ripe on the page; this is a novel is horny for itself ... somewhere shy of the halfway point, Lie With Me veers sharply into the nether lands of ironic quasi-autobiography. In direct asides, Besson press-gangs the reader into the role of confessional priest ... Besson is never as transparent as Rachel Cusk or Catherine Millet. Lie With Me is closer on the metafiction scale to far more playful works like Pale Fire ... By concealing the line between artifice and truth, Besson preserves it ... Ultimately, these games are not a distraction from the romance and nostalgia but very much the point. Think about it: How much of our own teenage years do we invent? ... Besson’s method sucks you in as an accomplice to this kind of necessary self-delusion, and offers a tantalizing third way of considering our own pasts ... moving and graceful.
There’s much book-to-film-star appeal in this moving, well-plotted tale: Elle dubbed it 'the French Brokeback Mountain'; there’s something of Call Me by Your Name’s Elio in Philippe, who lives in the books he reads and writes; and actress and writer Ringwald ably translates.
If you have ever been desperately in love and overwhelmed with intense and insatiable desire that ended in heartache and loss then this is the ideal book for you ... [an] enthralling story that is wonderfully told ... Although this is a short novel consisting of just 150 pages, Lie with Me will enthrall the reader from start to finish. The prose is so spot on. Besson seems incapable of wasting a word. His descriptions, his feelings, and his memories are precise and captivating.
Besson’s initial reluctance to put names to their sex acts feels musty, though the author does get more descriptively honest as the story progresses. The love between the two feels real and memorable, and Besson is a thoughtful writer who can strike home with vivid imagery, particularly as he and Thomas age and grow apart and Thomas’ son, Lucas, develops a friendship of sorts with the narrator. The only quibble is that this book, which is deftly translated, doesn’t exactly feel like a novel; it reads like a memoir. In fact, the only thing that keeps it from being garden-variety autofiction is Besson’s willingness to wink at his decision to make fictional an experience that seems to be based in reality ... An insightful reminder that in the years before gay dating apps zapped the mystery out of erotic pursuit, love between even mismatched men could be lifesaving.
Besson rehashes familiar tropes about secret teenage gay romance in this moving but unoriginal novel ... Despite the predictable plot, Besson’s writing and Ringwald’s smooth translation provide emotional impact.