Book Review: Lie With Me by Philippe Besson Lie With Me: A Novel: 9781501197871: Besson, Philippe,  Ringwald, Molly: Books

Title: Lie With Me

Author: Philippe Besson

Genre: Literary Fiction

Number of Pages: 149

Rating: B-

Recommended?: Yes

Philippe is a fairly successful gay writer who sees a man during an interview who reminds him of his first lover. He goes after him and is pulled into memories of his lonely adolescence and passionate affair with his classmate, Thomas, who initiated clandestine sexual encounters and sometimes offered brief flashes of his heart.

Largely set in small-town France in the 80’s, Lie With Me is a melancholy story about secrets and regret. My favorite thing by far about this book was the writing. I thought it might be overly purple, but it turned out to be clear and concise while still being evocative. I didn’t really connect with the characters and the sex scenes were awkward (can people stop describing people’s genitals as ‘sexes’ in fiction? It makes me cringe so hard.)

It didn’t feel all that romantic to me, it felt more like a situation of mutual need. Thomas very much called the shots and seemed to be in a position of power, which isn’t a criticism of the book itself but definitely made their relationship feel more rough than tender. It reminded me a little bit of the relationship between the two boys in Dream Boy by Jim Grimsley but Thomas was not nearly as much of a jerk as the older guy in that book.

The ending made me sad but I don’t feel like I was that emotionally engaged overall. Philippe had potential as a main character but I just didn’t feel like I got to know him that well. I feel like if there had been more time spent exploring his character and him and Thomas’ relationship, the book might have had more impact.

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