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Never Anyone But You


Never Anyone But You

Suzanne Malherbe is anything but rash. She’s quiet, thoughtful and creative, an artist by nature. Lucie Schwob is the exact opposite. She’s outspoken, always looking to cause a scene or be provocative, and willing to put herself in danger to make a point. When they meet as teenagers, it’s an explosion of feeling --- love at first sight, if you will. Their relationship becomes a series of small, clandestine moments that they live for, hoping above all else not to be discovered but each unwilling to let the other go.

In a twist of helpful fate, Suzanne’s mother marries Lucie’s father, and the two women --- now officially sisters --- decide that Paris would be a more exciting and accepting place to live the life they want and need. While World War I may be over, tensions are still strained, but Paris is a refuge in many ways. With new names and a bit of self-reinvention, Suzanne and Lucie become Marcel Moore and Claude Cahun, an artist and a writer and collaborative surrealist photographers. They spend many happy days in Paris with artists like Dali and writers like Hemingway discussing art, politics and love.

"Rupert Thomson has written an amazing story of love and resilience. I was in tears by the end of the novel, and each tear was worth the journey for these characters."

As the 1930s approach, so does the rise of anti-Semitism and fascism. The city that had been their home begins to feel less and less so. They decide to move to the island of Jersey --- a favorite vacation spot they visited often and a place that accepted them for who they were without asking questions. The island holds good memories for Marcel and Claude, and in need of a safe haven, they move there for the privacy it offers.

When the Nazis make their way to Jersey, Marcel and Claude decide to speak out. As an artist and a writer, they put their skills to use creating anti-Nazi propaganda. They know that the campaign will put not only themselves in danger but possibly others on the island as well, but they are unwilling to live under a regime of hate and feel that the risk is worth it. When they are finally discovered, they end up imprisoned, facing death, but not regret for the lives they lived.

Rupert Thomson has written an amazing story of love and resilience. I was in tears by the end of the novel, and each tear was worth the journey for these characters. The story itself spans decades, bringing readers along the way, and I truly felt part of these women’s lives by the end. We get to meet the artists with whom they mingled, and experience the art and excitement of Paris in the 1920s, all wrapped up in the cocoon of their vibrant, turbulent and loving relationship. The love Suzanne and Lucie share is extraordinary, volatile at times and, above all else, solid. The beauty of that singular relationship is what drives this story.

NEVER ANYONE BUT YOU is a brilliant work of historical fiction. Thomson is an astonishing writer who will leave you exhausted and drained but thoroughly satisfied by the last page. This is a perfect book to add to your summer reading list.

Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski on June 15, 2018

Never Anyone But You
by Rupert Thomson

  • Publication Date: June 5, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press
  • ISBN-10: 1590519132
  • ISBN-13: 9781590519134