One of the things that I love about where I work, though sadly only for another month or so, is that the team I am on all love books. They are very much into not only sharing their books (I have a lovely pile of doubled copies for them) they also love to talk about books. So when one of them asked me if I had read ‘Call Me By Your Name’ by Andre Aciman and raved about it as one of the ‘most beautifully written books I have ever read but also one of the most graphically shocking’ I whizzed it up my TBR. Atlantic Books had actually sent me this a while ago and I hadn’t gotten round to reading it, this of course has changed.
Told by Elio, the son of an academic in the 1980’s in the Italian Riviera, this is a tale of love that shouldn’t be and obsession. When Elio’s father takes on a house guest and ‘summer helper’ seventeen year old Elio falls head over heels in love. However his father’s house guest is Oliver, a dark moody and secretive character who seems only to despise Elio. There is also the fact that Oliver is a man and therefore the attraction that Elio feels shouldn’t really be.
It’s very difficult to say more without giving the plot away, I shall say that what follows is a tale of fascination and desire that threatens to overwhelm them both and take them on a journey that will change their lives forever. Aciman holds you in suspense as to what might happen for pages and pages and the prose is utterly taught and utterly beautiful. I don’t think that I have read such beautifully written and composed prose in a very, very long time.
Though in some ways it discusses the confused emotions of Elio, and in some ways second hand from Oliver’s perspective, over and over again it never feels repetitive even as Elio obsesses for almost 150 pages and nothing really happens you are still riveted by it. When something does happen between the lovers it is quite graphic and quite intense and definitely not for the faint hearted or those of you who may be of a delicate or slightly prudish disposition. Though actually I hope in this day and age there aren’t many of those readers out there. Read it for the prose and the love story.
Also read it for the ending as not only is it not what you expect at all, I can imagine a film of this must be in the making at the moment as I would imagine there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house. There is also one scene between Elio and his father which has touched me more than anything I have read in months and months, possibly even this year.
I don’t often demand that people read a book this is one book that I urge people to read. I honestly haven’t read anything so taught with emotions and complex feelings in a long, long time and that from me is seriously saying something. I know my review didn’t give very much away as to how the book unfolds or what happens but to tell you that would mean you didn’t have to read it and you do. The blurb says that ‘the six weeks together will prove to be an experience that will mark them both for a lifetime’ and I think the same could be said for anyone who has read this book.