The award-winning, bestselling French novel by Philippe Besson set in 1984 France. 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.
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.
... 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.
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.