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Arrête avec tes mensonges The award winning bestselling French novel by Philippe Besson about an affair between two teenage boys in 1984 France translated with subtle beauty and haunting lyricism by the iconic and internationally acclaimed actresswriter Molly Ringwald We drive at high speed along back roads through woods vineyards and oat fields The bike smells like gasoline and makes a lot of noise and sometimes I’m frightened when the wheels slip on the gravel on the dirt road but the only thing that matters is that I’m holding on to him that I’m holding on to him outside 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 affairDazzlingly rendered in English by Ringwald in her first ever translation Besson’s powerfully moving coming of age story captures the eroticism and tenderness of first love—and the heartbreaking passage of time 5 stars Audiobook4 stars for the story This is the story of Philippe and Thomas two boys who fall in love while attending high school in France in the 80s In a way it is a memoir the author denies it 😂😊 But i know it is The writing is lyrical and amazing The author made me feel the way he was feeling Thomas Thomas Thomas Gaaaaah It is worth reading This passion that can’t be talked about that has to be concealed gives way to the terrible uestion if it isn’t talked about how can one know that it really exists? One day when it’s over when it finally comes to an end no one will be able to attest to what took place Is this a memoir or just fiction? Surely it's a memoir and if it is it makes this even of a compelling readI was a mess after I finished thisIt was always going to be obvious the outcome for Thomas and Philippe wouldn't be the one the reader wanted and that wasn't really the reason I was a messIt was about the world we live in where as recently as the 1980's people still have to hide their sexuality and as a result never get to live their lives the way they want toStarting in 1984 and finishing in 2017 this one touched me deeplyTwo young boys who became lovers for a summer but were never destined to be much I did struggleinitially with the lack of dialogue but the I read the I didn't mind although as a result the book had a very melancholy feel to itThe joy and anguish of that first love told in the most beautiful words hereThe majority of the book centres around Thomas and Philippe's youthHow they got together and their subseuent relationshipMy heart ached for these boysTheir story was so touching and yet so sadHow many people meet and fall in love and never really stand a chance? The later part is when Philippe meets Thomas's son by chance one day and finally finds out a little of Thomas's life after the summer of 1984I say a little of Thomas's life because although his story is told there's so much you don't know in a wayIt's not romance but it definitely was a love story Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley Lie With Me is a tender beautiful novel written by French author Philippe Besson and translated by Molly Ringwald that follows the relationship that develops between two teenage boys in 1984 France “The image doesn’t fit my thick glasses my stretched out blue Nordic sweater the student head slaps the too good grades the feminine gestures Why me?He says Because you are not like all the others because I don’t see anyone but you and you don’t even realize it He adds this phrase which for me is unforgettable Because you will leave and we will stay There's something about books written retrospectively that just call out to me There’s a sense of nostalgia trapped within the narrative that’s almost always tinged with a sense of melancholy Lie With Me was exactly like that The story opens in 2007 with Philippe a successful author being interviewed on the release of his latest book As the interview progresses Philippe notices a young man exiting the hotel his interview takes place in a man that bears a striking resemblance to someone from his past It’s then that the story goes back to 20 years earlier where an 18 year old Philippe develops a secret relationship with another boy in his final year of high school – Thomas “We drive at high speed along back roads through woods vineyards and oat fields The bike smells like gasoline and makes a lot of noise and sometimes I’m frightened when the wheels slip on the gravel on the dirt road but the only thing that matters is that I’m holding on to him that I’m holding on to him outside” The story that's told in this book isn’t that long The actual novel is only 150 pages but it packs such a powerful and emotional punch The narrator Philippe felt so familiar to me that at times it felt like I was reading about myself because I saw so many aspects of my personality in his character This meant that I related to him massively which also meant that I knew I was going to love this book from the start As the story explores Thomas and Philippe’s relationship you already know that it doesn’t end well because that’s the sense you get when a story is told retrospectively Like these events have already happened but yet you still want the characters to have a happy ending and in this case I desperately wanted Thomas and Philippe to be together But what makes this novel incredible is that so many important themes are explored such as identity and life in a small town the differences between people and how sometimes those differences can change the trajectory of your life the bravery it takes to proudly be yourself and how sometimes it’s really difficult to summon that bravery when you’ve been repressing your identity for so long “He says I’m a boy of books from somewhere else This is important he sees me in a certain way a way he will never deviate from In the end love was only possible because he saw me not as who I was but as the person I would become” This book made me cry ugly tears because Philippe Besson really takes you on a journey Now I don’t know just how much of this book is fiction and how much may have been taken from the author’s own personal life because the novel itself is dedicated to ‘Thomas Andrieu’ and the main character is also called Philippe But I don’t think that’s important What’s important is the journey the characters go on the relationship that develops between them and what this relationship tells each of the characters about themselves But most importantly the reason I loved this novel so much is because of what it told me about myself I felt like I took away so much from this book It made me cry so much but it also touched me in a way where I’m still thinking about it now weeks after I’ve read it “Everything is in its place everything reassures me Except that I miss Thomas I miss him terribly And that changes everything Have you noticed how the most beautiful landscapes lose their brilliance as soon as our thoughts prevent us from seeing them properly?” The writing in this book was absolutely beautiful and poetic so much so that I can’t even begin to imagine just how beautiful this novel must be in French as that’s how it was first written Like I said previously I’m really drawn to books that are written retrospectively where characters reflect on their lives and the circumstances that have lead them to where they are when we meet them in the novel And the author perfectly weaves that sense of nostalgia within his own writing and it’s so vivid that I can feel like radiating off the words and enveloping me as I read it This book is only 150 pages but each of the words that have been used felt so deliberate and precise How is it that a book can be so small yet touch you in the biggest ways? “This feeling of love it transports me it makes me happy At the same time it consumes me and makes me miserable the way all impossible loves are miserable” Overall Lie With Me was a delicately beautiful book about identity and love but the kind of love that attaches itself to your soul and stays with you that made me cry but also filled me with a tender appreciation for life If Philippe Besson is capable of destroying me with a 150 page book I’m a little scared to read anything else by him I hope his other books are translated or I might just have to learn French and read them all It’s the least I could do to have the chance to experience something this beautiful again “I know you would have liked for things to be different for me to say the words that would have reassured you but I could not and I never knew how to talk anyway In the end I tell myself that you understood It was love of course And tomorrow there will be a great emptiness But we could not continue – you have your life waiting for you and I will never change I just wanted to write to tell you that I have been happy during these months together that I have never been so happy and that I already know I will never be so happy again” There were so many uotes that I adored that I wanted to include in my review so I’ve left them here “I’m seventeen years old I don’t know then that one day I won’t be seventeen I don’t know that youth doesn't last that it’s only a moment and then it disappears and by the time you finally realize it it’s too late It’s finished vanished lost”“I think I love him for this loneliness that it’s what pushed me toward him I love his aloofness his disengagement with the outside world Such singularity moves me”“I discover that absence has a consistency like the dark water of a river like oil some kind of sticky dirty liuid that you can struggle and perhaps drown in It has a thickness like night an indefinite space with no landmarks nothing to bang against where you search for a light some small glimmer something to hang on to and guide you But absence is first and foremost silence A vast enveloping silence that weighs you down and puts you in a state where any unforeseeable unidentifiable sound can make you jump”“There is the insanity of not being able to be seen together An insanity that is aggravated in this case by the unprecedented situation of finding ourselves in the middle of a crowd and having to act like strangers It seems crazy not to be able to show our happiness Such an impoverished word Others have this right and they exercise it freely Sharing their happiness makes them even happy makes them expand with joy But we’re left stunted compromised by the burden of having to always lie and censor ourselves”“And when you’ve been hurt once you’re afraid to try again later in dread of enduring the same pain You avoid getting hurt in an attempt to avoid suffering”“I had time to think all the way home about how affairs of the body are so much preferable to affairs of the heart but that sometimes you don’t have the choice”“You can never really let go of your childhood Especially when it was happy”“Above all we will no longer find the thing that first pushed us toward one another that day That singular moment The pure urgency of it There were circumstances – a series of coincidences and simultaneous desire 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” First love is always such a pivotal moment in anyone's life It bewitches you It nourishes you It transforms you in such a way that you can never be what you were before It's the loss of innocence but the gaining of so much It is the most timeless of love stories and this book perfectly encapsulates all the emotions that a young lover experiences When the adult Philippe sees a young man who bears a striking resemblance to his first love we are transported back to 1984 and the relationship that defined his life This short book is searingly beautiful It's filled with the most beautifully lyrical prose that just reaches into your soul and holds you tightly in its grasp And yes it's that Molly Ringwald that translated this The story explores issues of homophobia social class divide shame and the crippling fear that someone can live with when they are innocent victims of such The pain that emanates from this book is almost exuisite in how I keenly felt it as a reader A powerfully intense literary novel that demands to be felt in your soul's core and one that I highly recommend Five stars An e copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher Penguin UK via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review For reviews and book related chat check out my blog We drive at high speed along back roads through woods vineyards and oat fields The bike smells like gasoline and makes a lot of noise and sometimes I’m frightened when the wheels slip on the gravel on the dirt road but the only thing that matters is that I’m holding on to him that I’m holding on to him outside Philippe Besson Lie With MeIn memory of Thomas Andrieu 1966 2016Philippe Besson's Lie With Me is a beautifully delicate story that traces Besson's first love The initial part of the story takes place at Barbezieux High School a small town north of Bordeaux Thomas Andrieu and Philippe Besson maintain a sensual passionate but totally secretive relationship Thirty years later long after the relationship has ended Philippe crosses paths with the son of Thomas With Lie With Me Besson lays bare his life as never before according to him describing the story of an overwhelming and impossible love that will leave an indelible trace on his life It is the most honest Besson has ever been in his writing Besson has come up with something inventive and incredible than any of his fictional writings He has never dared to create something so honest in the past This is Besson's most Proustian work to date a writer he has been heavily influenced by And yet Lie With Me begins in 2007 when the Besson sees a man he thinks is — but can’t be — Thomas Andrieu a classmate and his first love in 1984 This meeting prompts Philippe to think back on his doomed relationship with ThomasThe two young men were uite different from one another Philippe was bookish a teacher’s son who was slightly alienated from his classmates in rural Barbezieux for being so smart and slightly effeminate Thomas is the shaggy haired dark eyed son of a farmer whose path has been laid out for him from the day he was born Besson describes Thomas to C Thomas HowellThe teens are secretly infatuated with each other though Philippe thinks it’s a one sided desire He’s shocked when Thomas invites him to lunch They meet far from town so their meeting won’t be discovered Soon these two sneak off together and engage in sex for the first timeBesson's openness in describing their affair sucks his readers into this world; so intimate are the descriptions that the feels he is in the room with the two of them during their encounters The sex is often rough clumsy and very tender uick rough and tender sex During those encounters Thomas has made a lasting impression on Philippe one that still haunts him all these years laterThe last third of Lie With Me returns to 2007 when Philippe engages the man who reminds him of Thomas It is Thomas’ son Lucas and so begins an exchange that divulges the impact of the teenagers’ love decades later To tell you than this would spoil the storyMy two complaints concerning Lie With Me have to do with the translator Much has been made of Molly Ringwald translating this book She does a fine job However many reviewers and journalists act as though this book would not exist without Ringwald's being part of this project She did not write Lie With Me but you'd never know that from the press surrounding the book They use Ringwald as the selling point for the book My other complaint has to do with the title In French the title is Stop With Your Lies Changing the title to Lie With Me eroticizes it and gives a double meaning But I must admit punning English title is much inviting So is Lie With Me an autobiography of sorts a memoir or is it even true at all? Besson himself writes that he invented stories all the time with so much authenticity that people usually ended up believing me sometimes even I was no longer able to disentangle the true from the false Could I have made this story up from scratch? Could I have turned an erotic obsession into a passion? Yes it’s possible But this is Bensson's story so may tell it however he likes In the end Lie With Me is a beautifully written book about loss first love and the pain and shame of hiding ones true self I read this novel for Lambda Literary where my full review can be foundA thoughtful examination of the ways social class shapes the experience and memory of love Lie With Me explores the emotional toll of homophobia upon gay male interiority From the vantage point of the present Parisian novelist Philippe a fictionalized version of Besson recounts the rise and fall of an affair he began at seventeen with a stoic classmate as well as the long lasting aftermath of that first love Beginning in 1984 near the countryside in Charente France the romance flares in intensity until class differences and heteronormativity forever separate the pair The first part comprising two thirds of the slim novel centers on the boys' love for each other; in the second and third an adult Philippe meets his old lover's son by chance and learns of his final fate Ringwald’s spare translation is moving and Besson's fragmented self reflexive style reminds one of a much accessible Marguerite Duras I feel this desire swarming in my belly and running up my spine But I have to constantly contain and compress it so that it doesn't betray me in front of the others Because I've already understood that desire is visiblePhilippe Besson is an extraordinary writer with a soul stirring lyrical prose that left me breathless at times In Lie With Me Besson takes the reader into the vulnerable mind of a 17 year old gay boy Philippe as he embarks on a clandestine affair with a classmate Thomas eventually falling in in love with the boy he knows he can't keepPhilippe's delicate and pure nature are the heart of this book and the author conveys his pain and confusion exuisitely Though it is never addressed I suspect that this book is at least partially autobiographical which only lended to the emotion it invoked in me My only critiue would be that I felt at times that the author veered too far off course leaving me wanting of Philippe's thoughts and his experiences as a gay boy trying to navigate his way through France in 1984 NOTE This is a short story only 90 pages on my Kindle I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review An unforgettable exuisite and powerful award winning French novel by Philippe Besson translated by the famous actress Molly Ringwald that reads and feels like the most intimate of memoirs For such a short novel it is achingly beautiful lyrical and intensely heartbreaking a portrayal of the emotional heady feelings of first love A fragile forbidden repressed covert gay relationship set in the 1980s in a rural small town in France Philippe is having a tough time in high school for being smart and perceived as effeminate and drawn towards the popular Thomas Andrieu a farmer's boy with his future life mapped out in front of him He has little idea that Thomas feels the same way about him until the two have lunch and embark on a sex driven affair that will haunt and have everlasting repercussionsPhilippe and Thomas are under no illusions they both know right from the very start that their relationship is temporary and will not endure but this in itself lends a passion poignancy and urgency to their love Years later in the present Philippe is a well known writer who encounters a young man that inescapably reminds him of his first love Thomas's son Lucas from whom he learns of Thomas's life after school and his family This is a painfully tragic profoundly moving and elouently expressed story of hatred thwarted love loss homophobia regrets masculinity memory and class that will stay with you long after you have finished reading the last page Highly recommended big time Many thanks to Penguin UK for an ARC I recently saw Ellen Page on The Late Show give an impassioned plea to end the hate against the ueer community I was moved by her words and while reading this novella I kept thinking about them How long has hatred left its indelible mark and perhaps changed the course of so many lives senselessly? Philippe Besson and Thomas Andrieu can be counted amongst that collateral damage There was no hate crime or bullying per se but both were victims of a persistent kind of hatred that relegated them to a clandestine relationship intolerance Philippe and Thomas should've been afforded the same privileges as their heterosexual counterparts without impunity They should've been allowed the freedom to love and be loved without the need for courage or bravery to do so and Lie With Me is the story of how bigotry stymied that freedom and fear of reprisal stole their innocence It seems crazy to not be able to show our happiness Such an impoverished word Others have this right and they exercise it freely Sharing their happiness makes them even happy makes them expand with joy But we're left stunted compromised by the burden of having to always lie and censor ourselves This passion that can't be talked about that has to be concealed gives way to the terrible uestion if it isn't talked about how can one know that it really exists? Lie With Me is poignant memoir that tells the story of Philippe's first love of a beautiful boy with a tragic soul Told from memory in three parts making it difficult to avoid the inclusion of later events and making the specifics of dialogue hazy thus giving the reader a bit non linear retelling but an emotive one nonetheless The first part takes place in 1984 when they are seniors and comprises the bulk of the story The second part takes place in 2007 when during an interview Philippe sees a boy outside a hotel that's the spitting image of Thomas a boy who turns out to be his son and the events of 2016 conclude the storyPhilippe is inuisitive precocious and gobsmacked when Thomas approaches him Thomas is popular but uiet and solemn resigned to a life he knows will never bring him happiness At 17 he's already incorporated secrecy and deception as his norm and at 18 those habits will forever taint them both During their time together they do seemingly snatch a few moments of bliss and Besson captured the intensity of his feelings for Thomas as well as the optimism and folly of youth I truly felt not only his physical desire for him but his steadfast belief that they would find a way to carve out a future together despite evidence to the contraryI'm not sure what I expected from this book but I absolutely did not expect a memoir That tangible connection tethered me to the reality of the oppressive prejudice that has been globally devastating to so many for far too long Prejudice robbed these two boys of a life together a life they deserved and left in its place a life lived inauthentically for one and the other struggling to give his heart to another after having it broken by his first loveBesson's prose is lyrical evocative and exceedingly French in that it encapsulates the essence of experiencing life through the prism of an artistic eye What fascinates me about this perspective is the uncanny ability to both see and experience life with gusto while also believing it's all going to end disastrously or at the very least disappointingly That dichotomous worldview is in part what made Lie With Me not only touching but memorable Those who have not taken this step who have not come to terms with themselves are not necessarily frightened that are perhaps helpless disoriented lost as one is in the middle of a forest that's too dark or dense or vast Even though Lie With Me has a melancholy overtone that will probably only appeal to a niche market I was beguiled by Besson's elouence and I hope of his works are translated into English especially if this is representative of his work If you are someone who can appreciate that not all romances end happily give his words a chance to weave their magic An ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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