Come Lie With Me by Philippe Besson


This is a beautifully written book translated from the French by Molly Ringwald.  The novel often seems more like a memoir; in fact, it does share threads from the author’s own life.  It is the tale of young gay love complicated by class and cultural differences. The two high school boys come from very different backgrounds.  Philippe, the story’s narrator, is the son of a school principal, and he is destined for higher education and a career that carries him away from his provincial home town.  Thomas lives in the countryside.  He is not taking courses geared toward further education.  His sense of duty to his family calls him to a future life working at the family’s dairy farm and vineyard.  While Philippe knows he’s gay, he is not quite ready to announce it to his school friends.  Thomas demands absolute secrecy, in part, because he knows that he will never escape the small world in which he lives where homosexuality would never be tolerated (the story is set in the 1980,s).  The title is both an invitation to lovemaking and deception.  Come Lie With Me is both tender and tragic.  While Philippe is more naive, Thomas knows from the beginning that the relationship he shares with Philippe is destined to end.  The novel concludes with a chance meeting years later between the highly successful Philippe and Thomas’ son.  The reader learns of the ultimate price paid by both men–and Thomas’ family– for their early intimate encounter.  One reviewer states that the novel, “Brilliantly reminds the reader of the joys and agonies of love.”  I would agree.

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