Translated from the original French by Breakfast Club actor and writer, Molly Ringwald, Philippe Besson’s latest novel lies comfortably next to another similar type of novel-turned-hit-film, Call Me By Your Name.
If you’ve ever seen one of 2018’s biggest films or read the book it was based on, you’ll know that Besson’s narrative will feature young love and coming of age, but what makes this story so different to its early-80s-set predecessor is that with Lie With Me, meta fiction takes centre stage.
Dedicated to a Thomas Andrieu (1966 – 2006) Lie With Me’s young, later-to-become-hit-author protagonist, named Philippe, falls for another young man with the same name. This novel always has the reader wondering how much of the book’s plot is fact, and how much is fiction, and Besson’s play with this quasi-autobiographical notion has already made the book a hit in its native France, as well as being named The Advocate’s Best Gay Novel of 2019 and featured among O Magazine’s Best LGBTQ Books That’ll Change the Literary Landscape in 2019, among a host of other listings.
Lie With Me’s blurb reads, “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. Without ever acknowledging they know each other in the halls, they steal time to meet in secret, carrying on a passionate, world-altering affair.”
NPR’s Michael Schaub writes of this novel, “Besson is a gifted stylist, and he infuses Philippe’s story with the right notes of sadness and longing. Reflecting on his affair with Thomas, Philippe muses, ‘There was something in the atmosphere, something in the time and the place, that brought us together. And then everything broke — like a firework exploding on a dark night in July that spirals out in all directions, blazing brightly, dying before it touches the ground, so that no one gets burned. No one gets hurt.’ It’s a wistful passage that perfectly captures what it’s like to be young and in love, as well as a good summation of Besson’s lovely novel.”
Lie With Me is available on Amazon.