“Lovers” by Daniel Arsand is set in 18th Century France. It is a love story. A love story that is doomed from the very beginning. It is between two men. A forbidden love, that needs to be destroyed. A love which cannot exist – for the people or for the King. A love story between a French Nobleman, Balthazar and Sebastien, a beautiful and magical adolescent. Theirs is an all-encompassing love affair that refuses to be cowed down by society, its rules and expectations. Of course lovers will meet their end, they will be ruined and so will their love.
Because of this love Balthazar ignores his obligation to the King, because of which he is set on a trial, which ultimately leads to his death. Sebastien on the other hand runs away from Versailles, wanting to live a new life. He tries to forget Balthazar but cannot. The book but of course ends on a tragic note.
“Lovers” is a beautifully written novella. It breaks all boundaries of writing, in its approach and also in its storytelling. It is a novella which you will finish in a day and ponder over it for days. I might also want to add here that even though it is about a man loving another man, everyone can relate to it, considering it is written about love and its nature.
For me Lovers was a mix of prose and poetry. The writing left me speechless and wanting more. The beautiful part about the book is that it can be about any kind of love. The fact that it chooses to portray two men in love, is purely the author’s choice.
Daniel Arsand knows how to write a book – to mix the elements of melancholy, joy and pain beautifully and express those using words. Lovers for me was a book not just about love that was not acknowledged and accepted (it still happens sadly in today’s time and age). It was also about how we are not willing to see beyond what the society has set as a so-called-structure.
The translation from French is superbly done by Howard Curtis. There is beauty. There is savageness. There is love that needs to be defined and there is the question of dying for love. “Lovers” has been one of the year’s best small reads. It is a read that will leave you wanting more and leave an emptiness in your heart. A must read.