Rarely do I read such a beautiful, lyrical, tender, moving and heart-breaking novella as Lie With Me (Penguin 2019) by Philippe Besson, translated from the French in achingly luminous prose by Molly Ringwald. This passionate and romantic story of a blossoming but impossible love between two young men absolutely broke me. Full of shame and desire, a sense of duty, sensual and sensuous prose, and intense and devastating themes, Lie With Me lives up to both senses of the title’s meaning.
Shifting between three years, 1984, 2007 and 2016, we are immersed in the author’s head from the start as he meets Thomas and the two are magnetically drawn to each other despite society’s displeasure. And indeed, early in the book are the prophetic words: ‘He tells me something I did not know: that I will leave.’ This phrase returns to haunt him over the years. This story is physically arousing and emotionally affecting; poignant, touching, distressing. I was reminded of the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘The years teach much which the days never know.’
This is a love story like no other, with a shocking and emotional ending that is simultaneously impossibly sad and beautiful.
My thanks to Holden Shepherd who recommended this book to me about four years ago … (it has been on my TBR list for a while!); my only regret is that I didn’t read it sooner. Unforgettable.