Hi, Hey, Hello!
Surprise, surprise, it’s another book review.
I knew within the first two paragraphs of this book that it was going to be right up my street because the writing was just so stunning. It’s told in a reflective manner looking back at a time 20+ years ago. I liked that quality of it. It added an extra layer to the whole story. It did however occasionally mean that at times I got a tad confused as to the timeline.
Elio would be talking about one thing and then move onto a tangent, in the way that you do when you’re thinking/talking to someone, but it did then mean that you were kind of moving away from the normal narrative and then had to sort of muddle your way back into it. It didn’t happen often, but if you’re not fully in then it can be a little confusing, which yeah does sometimes happen when you’re kind of tired at it’s before 9am.
Because of the way that this story is told there is almost like a dreamlike quality to it. Elio somehow manages to romanticise the summer that he met Oliver whilst also making it clear that on some level it changed him fundamentally and his life was sort of split between before Oliver and after Oliver. It was a common theme throughout the book and I liked that it was so strong a theme.
This reflective story telling also meant that the book felt like it was real in the way that it was slightly all over the place. It jumped from place to place in the way that your memory does.
The characters beyond Oliver didn’t really feel all the fleshed out, although that was probably more to do with the fact that it wasn’t really their story and so for the most part that didn’t bother me. It did in the case of Marzia. I feel like she was supposed to be kind of a thing for Elio but it never really came across like that other than the fact that he slept with her largely to take his mind off Oliver. Although as I have just said that I realise what her point is…
The tension between the two characters and what actively getting involved with one another means in the world that they occupy comes across beautifully. The fact that for a lot of the latter pages of the book they can only exist in closed spaces and in the relative freedom of Rome. And then as the book draws to a close they can pretty much only exist in their memories as Oliver settles down in the way that he is expected to and Elio seems to just accept that on some level he probably won’t ever have something that will fulfil him the way that his brief summer romance with Oliver did. In that respect the ending of the book was kind of sad in that there was no happy ending, but if you really think about it this book was never going to have a happy ending. Elio and Oliver were never going to ride off in the sunset together. You know from the opening paragraphs (that I loved so much) that it isn’t going to end with the two of them. Also this love story is taking place in the 80s.
It means that you kind of finish the book feeling a bit sad because the story itself is beautiful and because at that point you are kind of invested in Elio’s journey in relation to Oliver. You’ve been with him as he tries to ignore Oliver but realises that the can’t. As he moves through accepting all his emotions related to him. As their relationship progresses to being physical. As he has to come to terms with the fact that Oliver is leaving and then moving on with his life and getting married and having children. And how Elio never really got over their relationship and that one summer. And the final line of the book was just so heartbreaking, but then also in keeping with the overall vibe of the book was just beautiful.
I will also give a special shoutout to the relationship that Elio had with his father. There was something so touching about the scene between them about Elio sexuality. It was one of my favourite parts of the book as a whole.
This book had a lot of hype surrounding it (especially that peach scene, which I knew about but somehow took a turn that I did not really expect it to) and so I did kind of go into it with a little bit of apprehension just in case it didn’t live up to the hype. But it did. Or at least I felt like it did. I knew it would be the case almost instantly and I’m so glad that it continued that trend throughout.
I would recommend this book. For the story and for the style of writing. Both of which are a total winner. It’s beautiful and stunning and all the other good adjectives that you can think of. You finish this book feeling some kind of way. Or at least I did.
Parentheses count: 2. See you tomorrow!
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