Review Blog

Dec 04 2019

Lie with me by Philippe Besson

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Penguin, 2019. ISBN: 9780241987094.
(Age:16+) Highly recommended. Philippe Besson is a French author and this novel (originally in French) is translated by Molly Ringwald. This book is a compelling read and impossible to put down. Told in three sections the narrator speaks of his first love. Philippe and Thomas are 17 and at school in a very small village in France. Their love is secret and passionate. The vulnerability of Philippe and Thomas is poignant as they both live the lie of appearing heterosexual while their love for each other occupies their hearts and minds.
Social class is also explored. Philippe is the son of the headmaster of the school and Thomas the son of migrant labourers. Thomas is aware from the beginning that Philippe will leave the village, and him, to make his way in the world.
As an adult Philippe meets a young man who resembles his first love. The young man is the son of Thomas. From this point in the novel we hear how this first love has shaped the lives of Thomas and Philippe. While they did not stay together - they were always in each other's lives. The reader discovers the outcomes of secrecy and self-deception, combined with the oppressive prejudice and discrimination they faced, as both poignant and thought provoking.
Although this novel is short it is a powerful story beautifully told.
Linda Guthrie

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