If, like me, the final lines of Call Me by Your Name – André Aciman’s swoony summer tale of first love on the Italian Riviera in the 1980s – left you weeping and yearning for more of Elio and Oliver’s story, you should run, not walk, to get your hands on its sequel, Find Me.
Find Me picks up ten years after Elio and Oliver’s first meeting, but Aciman’s focus, initially, is on Elio’s father, Samuel. He’s on a Rome-bound train to meet his son, now a pianist of growing reputation. From the confines of his carriage, Samuel falls in love with his travelling companion, Miranda. In the book’s second section, Aciman moves us forward another five years, to Elio, now living in Paris and falling in love with an older man, Michel. But he can’t forget his first, and most potent love, Oliver. Five years forward again and we see Oliver, now forty-four, in New York City with his wife where he has been teaching, about to return to his life in New Hampshire. He’s still attracted to women and men; still restless with longing for the one that got away – Elio.
While Find Me might be disappointing for readers who just want to launch straight into a reunion between Elio and Oliver, Aciman takes his time to untangle the ways in which these beloved characters have been marked by lost love. Few writers are able to configure the vicissitudes of desire with as much drama, intensity, and insight as Aciman can. All of his most compelling themes remain – time, memory, fate, music, and the nature of love – and his language is sensual and unsentimental. First love doesn’t die – as Find Me suggests, it barely disappears. That Italian summer has haunted Elio and Oliver, shadowing them around the world. I think this erotic and gentle novel will stay with you and do the same.
Joanna Di Mattia works as a bookseller at Readings Carlton.
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