I Love You Too Much Hardcover – 23 Jan 2018
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|Hardcover, 23 Jan 2018||
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"Alicia Drake's beautifully written tale of an adolescent French boy adrift between divorced, narcissistic parents feels like the enfant naturel of Henry James's What Maisie Knew and Deborah Levy's Swimming Home. Her depiction of contemporary well-heeled Parisian life is so spot on, you might be in the sixth arrondissement watching kids spill out of school, lighting their cigarettes and lining up to buy pain au chocolat at the corner boulangerie. I couldn't put it down."--Anne Korkeakivi, author of Shining Sea
"A timely look at the carnage caused by parental narcissism. Funny, waspish, astute, l Love You Too Much is a heart breaking tale from the tubby sidelines of Parisian perfection."--Denise Mina, author of The Long Drop
"I Love You Too Much is an atmospheric deep dive into longing, betrayal, and the shattered illusions of youth. Alicia Drake's Paris is haunting, and her writing soars."
--Charlotte Rogan, author of Now and Again
"Not often do you come across a protagonist who you want to hug and shield from the world. Drake creates a character who is sure to bring out the maternal instinct in every reader."--Janice MacLeod, author of the New York Times bestseller Paris Letters
"In her compelling fiction debut, Drake, a formerly longtime Paris resident... crafts Paul's hometown with a true insider's care, and she believably narrates as a boy resisting the confining forces of his self-involved parents' narrow paths and stingily shared love for him."--Booklist
'Memorable, heartfelt...poignant and uplifting'--Publisher's Weekly
"An astute and poignant portrait of adolescence."--People
"a dark coming-of-age story that will break your heart - and not let you forget it."--Hello Giggles
About the Author
Brought up in Liverpool, Alicia Drake was educated at Cambridge University. She went to Paris for six months and stayed for eighteen years. There she worked as a writer and fashion journalist and had five children. She is the author of The Beautiful Fall, a book of narrative nonfiction about Paris fashion and creativity in the 1970s. She returned to the UK recently and now lives in the countryside with her husband and children. I Love You Too Much is her first novel.
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The story opens with the birth of Paul’s sister, Lou, whose papa is Gabriel, an aspiring rock star. Like Paul, Lou will be looked after by Cindy, the family’s Filipino help. Unlike his parents, Cindy allows Paul the comfort food he craves, his only solace from the knowledge that he is a disappointment in every aspect of his life. Paul is regularly made aware that his family cannot boast of his achievements, as their relatives and friends do of their offspring.
When a new girl, Scarlett, arrives at Paul’s school the boys are taken by her brazen attitude and exhibitionism. Soon she is going out with cool kid Stéphane, making out in front of everyone, posting photos of their encounters on social media. When Séverine decides to indulge in a weekend of thalassotherapy, Paul refuses to attend the usual kid’s club at the resort and hangs out with Scarlett who is also there with her parents. They both come from families of high achievers they have failed to please.
Back in Paris, Scarlett starts to spend time with Paul after school. Her friendship is a small light in a life that grows ever more bleak. Philippe, whose family is crushing in their criticism of any who do not conform to their narrow expectations, is caught in compromising circumstances. Séverine is growing tired of supporting Gabriel who is looking elsewhere for his kicks.
The story portrays three generations of admiration seekers and the damage their incessant demands wreak. In gorgeous, devastating prose the reader is led through Paul’s lonely life, his longing for acceptance and support in a world that admires only perceived beauty and the trappings of conspicuous success. He can talk to Scarlett but not about everything. Likewise she is keeping secrets from him.
In the opening pages Paul describes his Paris:
“There are no dirty shoes in the 6ème where I live. There is nowhere to get dirty. There are only pavements and the Jardin du Luxembourg. There is grass in the jardin, but you are not allowed to walk on it.
My Paris is the one same street between school and home. It is grey apartment buildings and heavy wooden doors that you step through into dark courtyards, still and damp where the ivy grows. […] It is empty corridors of polished parquet four floors up and my feet not touching the ground. […] It is many lives lived alone.”
The desire for veneration leads each character to follow destructive paths, and then on to more of the same, their delusions ingrained. Paul recognises the hypocrisy of the demands being made of him but is rendered powerless by his desire for acceptance by those he loves. When Scarlett too appears to turn away, his misery is complete.
This is a stunning work, intoxicating and heartbreaking. A recommended read.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Picador.
Paul is a young boy living with his mother in the sixth arrondissement in Paris. His life is lonely and his world is small. With no friends to assuage his concerns, lend a listening ear or fill the seat beside him at school, he trudges through the days with no love or friendship forthcoming and no imminent change awaiting him. That is until his mother and father separate, then his own fragile existence is heaped with fear and guilt of it all being his fault.
Soon Severińe finds a new partner, an aspiring rock star intent on having his time in the spotlight, and falls pregnant. Baby Lou is born and suddenly Paul feels jousted from his mother's gaze, what little time she has now is for the baby, not for him. And there is no comfort to be found from his father, Philippe, who monitors the time they share and who is more interested in improving his fitness regime and toned physique. Both parents strive for beauty and perfection in the face of theirs son's yearning for love. But nothing awaits him. The only comfort he can cling to is from his mother's helper, Cindy.
Soon a change comes again for Paul. On a relaxing break with his family, he meets Scarlet, a wild, rebellious girl from his school. Seen but never spoken, they strike an unlikely bond over their stay. They find in each other something both have always wanted and always missed. Friendship. Finally Paul is no longer alone. But when he returns home and witnesses something life-changing, even Scarlet might not be able to help him. To heal him.
Brimming with intelligence, raw emotion and insight, I Love You Too Much is a gloriously powerful tale that follows a young boy's coming of age and a lonely march into manhood.
Raw. Emotional. Powerful.
Set in Paris the reader is taken to places unknown to tourists and the City of Light is brought into sharp relief when 13 year old Paul witnesses an event that will change the course of his adolescence.
Thanks to Anna Pallai and Alicia Drake for the opportunity to read and review I Love You Too Much. I highly recommend it.