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Love Left Behind

Translated from the French by Molly Ringwald

2017 (Scribner)

In a nameless European hotel lobby, a character named Philippe is being interviewed about his new book. His attention is soon distracted by the glimpse of a young man about to exit, whose resemblance eerily resembles the one great love of his past.

So begins Philippe Besson´s succinct yet densely layered novella, captured in an eloquent translation from the French by the actress, writer, and singer Molly Ringwald. A tale told primarily in flashback, Lie With Me presents three key periods spanning over twenty years of Philippe´s relationship with Thomas, with whom he shared a brief, covert, and achingly passionate romance while the two were teenagers growing up in the village of Barbezieux.

Rightfully garnering numerous accolades (including The Advocate´s Best Gay Novel of 2019),

Lie With Me offers far more than a gay coming-of-age of story. Each of the novella´s three episodes cascade into one another, creating an unstoppable story about heartache and love. Throughout the book, Philippe (both the character as well as the author) is haunted by the impossibility of ever returning to the past, an anguish which is compounded by attempts to do so anyway when it comes to love. Both he and Thomas have found ways to lie to themselves for more than twenty years about who they are, the significance of this love in their lives, and the consequences of this desire over time. Lie With Me purposefully blurs past and present, and is a haunting elegy on how certain encounters, no matter how fragile, can change our lives irrevocably.

Through Ringwald´s exceptional translation, English readers can revel in Besson´s prose, whose passages are frequently spare and brutally poetic. The truths contained within Lie With Me pierce the heart, articulating the emotional wounds we all feel (if we are lucky).

This book is a love story, more than an erotic tale; and more of a tragedy, than a romance. Nonetheless, Besson´s story is an achingly beautiful work told directly, describing complex themes in simple language. Treat yourself to opening up the pages of this dark gift.

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