My review -
This is a love story narrated by the seventeen year-old Elio. Oliver comes to spend the summer at Elio’s parents’ house on the Italian coast. His father, an American academic, takes people on summer placements and Oliver is here to finish a book. Elio is drawn to him. This is a man/man relationship but they both have female partners. It’s up to the reader to interpret this. The heat of the summer, the languid lolling by a pool or sitting on rocks on the shore, and the cycling into town set a tone which makes this a magical place and time.
Because Elio’s thoughts are our guide through this compelling tale, we follow his see-saw emotions as he’s drawn to the visitor, then convinced that Oliver can’t stand him. He alternately loves and is unmoved by Oliver. He occasionally hates himself. It’s a situation many of us will remember from early relationships. Will he, won’t he; does he, doesn’t he? It gives us a glimpse into two lives which made me think that any relationship has a potential which is rarely fulfilled. Which of those we met and left could have been our ‘true love’? This is so different from the action thrillers or crime books which I often reach for, but it’s very intense and introspective. A beautifully written book, it’s a very good read.