Having fallen in love with the film adapted from Andre Aciman’s book, I just knew I had to give the book a go. I had some trepidation as sometimes when a book is adapted the film isn’t as good, or even vice versus if you happen to have seen the film first. I’ve found this before with Joanne Harris’ Chocolat. I liked the film better.
However, in Call Me By Your Name’s case, I love the book just as much as the film.
It isn’t often an adaption of a film translates so well, but for me the book and the film are almost one. The book gives insight into the mind of Elio and the agony he endures silently during the film. While the film gives you the silence of those moments when Elio is in agony, and the perspective of those without insight into Elio’s thoughts and what they perceive to be going on.
But I have already talked about the film (and I’ll try not to talk too much more about it). This is the book’s review, and I can happily say it is gorgeous.
I thought at first the long (sometimes very long) sentences were going to annoy me, but like with any writing style I adapted quickly enough because the style suited the tone.The agony of the sort of love Elio feels, full of doubt, pain, confusion, hope, passion and anticipation, and then sorrow suits the long trailing sentences.
The slightly distorted timeline reflects that this story is something being remembered and portrays how wonderfully love can sometimes make memory distorted. You can remember everything, but you don’t necessarily remember it in the right order.
Aciman has written Elio and Olivier’s relationship so that it feels like an endless love affair: a long, hot summer in Northern Italy shared by two men as they discover the happiness total intimacy can bring them, while Elio also grows and begins to figure out who he is as a person.
Having seen the film a couple of times and having now read the book, Aciman’s story is timeless. As Elio remembers Olivier, it is as if that summer lasted forever and I quite believe for Elio it did, because he became himself that summer.
And there is certainly quite a few things that the book does better than the film. There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding their affair, and themes of shame come across better in the book. I’m not really in a position to comment on being ashamed of being in love as the attractions I predominately feel aren’t something that society judges.
For those out there though that do or ever have felt shamed by society, what I hope you can find in either the book or the film (or both) is a love story you can enjoy, because the only barriers to resisting their feelings, in either Elio or Olivier’s case, don’t come from external forces.
No-one judges them for what they feel between them, though there are certainly hints that for Olivier he would face judgement from others. The only barriers that makes them resist or hesitate are the ones they form themselves, and I think that is what I love the most about this story.
They are the only ones judging them, no-one else does, and honestly it is no-one else’s place to do so; their journey towards their intimacy was truly their own. The only antagonistic force against them was themselves.
‘Call me by your name’ by Andre Aciman will be a book I shall return again and again, because it is just as simple as two people falling in love, and sometimes a love story is all you want, even if the idea behind calling each other by their own name is a bittersweet touch.