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Never Anyone But You

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  576 ratings  ·  92 reviews
The true story of a love affair between two extraordinary women becomes a literary tour deforce in this novel that recreates the surrealist movement in Paris and the horrors of the two world wars with a singular incandescence and intimacy.

In the years preceding World War I, two young women meet, by chance, in a provincial town in France. Suzanne Malherbe, a shy seventeen-y
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Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Other Press
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3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  576 ratings  ·  92 reviews


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Eric Anderson
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are innumerable unsung and compelling figures from history who never quite achieved the fame or long-lasting influence you’d expect. One of my favourite books from the past few years is Megan Mayhew Bergman’s collection of short stories “Almost Famous Women” which fictionalizes the stories of several striking women who were figures of marginal significance in their times but not widely remembered. A couple of her tales deal with people around the notoriously vibrant art scene in Paris betw ...more
Jill
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, I was really primed to like this one. The subject matter is fascinating: two real-life young women, Suzanne Halberde and Lucie Schwob, refuse to be tied down to gender identification and expectations. Changing their names to Marcel and Claude, they reinvent themselves, collaborating on avant-garde texts, and hobnobbing with the glamourous and creative in Paris.

I know that Rupert Thomson is a gifted writer, having read Katherine Carlyle, his last book. And indeed, this one is well-written too
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Doug
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like I think the majority of people who will be drawn to this biographical novel, I had never heard of the real life protagonists - but they sure lived a fascinating life as early Surrealists, Resistance fighters, and for over forty years, step-sisters and lovers. The only other Thomson book I've read is his startling 'The Book of Revelation', and like that, this benefits from a cool, precise, yet lyrical prose style, well suited to the subject of two 'gender outlaws'.

My major quibble with it, i
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Patrick St-Amand
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very moving story about love but not in a romance kind of way. It's about the friendship and love of two girls spanning decades. I was personally touched by the self-isolation they inadvertently created as I am a bit of a recluse, for better or worse. Fair warning to those that need a plot that this novel might not be for them as it is a slow pace. But if you like human stories then definitely give this a try.
Mimi
Aug 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read, novels
A novelisation of the lives of two fascinating women, French artists Suzanne Malherbe and Lucy Schwob. The novel takes the form of Suzanne’s memoir which is centred on her life-long, all-consuming love affair with Lucy. Thomson covers their story from the first meeting in their teens; going on to recreate their time in Paris where, immersed in café society, they mixed with other artists and writers such as Hemingway and Dali. In Paris they began to work on their art, in particular a mix of colla ...more
Annie
Apr 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rupert Thomson’s Never Anyone But You made me ask a question I have never had to ask of a book before. Why was this story written as a novel? The book tells the story of Claude Cahun and Suzanne Malherbe, artists and lovers who weathered the Surrealist Movement and World War II, following them from 1909 to 1972. A novel about their love and co-dependency and art and subversion should have been fascinating—and yet, the way it’s written, this book is dry. Many parts read like straight biography wi ...more
Elisabeth
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rupert Tomson is a very creative writer. I am surprised that he is not more well known. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Liked it even more when I learned it was based on real life.
LAPL Reads
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paris in the 1920s: for Americans this phrase tends to evoke the U.S. expatriates who spent time there, including Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald. But most of the people who created the magical atmosphere that attracted all those foreigners were, of course, French natives. Rupert Thomson's tenth novel is a fictionalized portrait of two real-life Frenchwomen who participated in the artistic life of that place and time, and went on to play an equally significant part in the resistance to ...more
Stephen Goldenberg
Like some other reviewers, I’m not entirely sure of the point of telling this true story of these two strong, independent and unconventional women as fiction. They are engaging characters but, for me their story fell into four parts. Their early family connection and subsequent love affair was fascinating and well told. Likewise, the section where they are trapped on Jersey during the Nazi occupation and find their own subtle means of resistance was suspenseful and cast an interesting light on a ...more
Anna
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, wwii
I read ‘Never Anyone But You’ during a bout of insomnia and subsequent fug of sleep deprivation. I’ve got a pretty good instinct for insomnia reading and this was well suited to the purpose. (Now I kind of want to write a taxonomy of what’s best to read while experiencing different types of insomnia, but that’s just the tiredness talking.) Thomson’s writing style is elegant, cool, and somehow distant, unusually so for a first person narrative. The plot centres on the four-decade love story of tw ...more
nikkia neil
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss
Thanks Edelweiss for this ARC.

The wait was worth it for this new book by Rupert Thomson. You'll be transported in the way only books can make you rapturous.

Kaytee Cobb
this book took me 8 years (oops, DAYS) to read, partly because I feel like this male author was trying too hard to portray female emotions. Our two main characters are Suzette (Marcel) and Lucie (Claude). I know this one will be compared to the recent smash hit of the Heart's Invisible Furies, but it doesn't hold a candle. Where that was funny and poignant and sweet and heartbreaking, this feels like a WWII spy novel that just happens to have two lesbians at its center. of course it may just be ...more
Steph
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 Sterne

This book completely took me by surprise. What an extraordinary and gorgeous story, I’m still in awe and to be honest it has been a while since I actually cried reading a book. This is a story about love and art, about war, about devotion, loyalty, convictions, bravery, strength, weakness, about two strong independent women who lived through two world wars, smashed gender barriers, became important figures of the Surrealist movement in Paris and revolted against Nazi occupation of the
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Liselot
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
Such a wonderful read! I cannot believe I hadn't heard of these two magnificent women before. The writing seemed somehow both intimate and distant, and I grew very attached to the main characters, Paris, their island, their work, their dreams. This book is beautiful and informative, and I am very glad I stumbled upon in!
Linda Semple
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A rare five star review

Well. This was a surprise. Thomson has performed an uncanny act of ventriloquism in this lovingly-told story of Claude Cahun & Suzanne Malherbe. I knew a bit about them - feminist art circles in the 1980s had ‘rediscovered’ them - but the detail and, well, charm of Thomson’s imagining of their life is just lovely. Highly recommended.
Myriam
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Who was it who said that at every moment we stand on the edge of eternity? I don't remember. But that was how it felt to live with her.
That was how it felt fom the beginning.'
Rob
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Utterly delightful. Thomson writes with a lightness of touch that is easy to overlook. This novel charts the real-life love story of two young girls from northern France. It takes in French intellectual society in the 1920s & 1930s, all the way through Nazi-occupied Jersey to its poignant end.
Mary Vermillion
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt
This novel is so beautiful and inspiring—perfect for anyone who wonders whether their little bit of resistance can matter. It celebrates the power of love, words, and art.

It’s based on two real people, Marcel Moore (born Suzanne Mahlerbe) and Claude Cahun (born Lucie Schwab). Their love survives so much: homophobia, Claude’s death wish, Marcel’s jealousy, imprisonment by Nazis, and eventually Claude’s death.

These two French women used cigarette papers and their own creativity to conduct a succes
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Featherbooks
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art, women, war, france
Taut, compelling novelization of the lives of Surrealist writer Claude Cahun and her photographer/artist partner Marcel Moore aka Suzanne Malherbe who narrates their story. They shared ideas with Andre Breton, adored Dali, knew Kiki of Montparnassus among the milieu of Paris in the Twenties and Thirties. They moved to the island of Jersey under threat of war and instigated an underground propaganda scheme against Nazi occupiers in their area. They sneaked their leaflets into the pockets of the g ...more
Sophie (RedheadReading)
I'm very torn between whether this is a 3 star or a 4 star read! I really loved learning about Claude and Marcel, especially their interactions with the surrealist movement and their resistance propaganda movement in WW2. Occaisionally I struggled with the style of the book and felt a bit of a distance from the characters are some points. However, I feel like this is a story that I will think about a lot, so I may bump it up a star later.
Bookreporter.com Historical Fiction
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 ...more
Jody Scott
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In pre-WWI France two young girls meet and fall in love. They grow up and move to Paris and become part of the artistic renaissance of the between-wars period; they are present at the birth of Dadaism and Surrealism. As approaching war becomes evident they move to Jersey. During the Nazi occupation they wage their own war of resistance, papering the island with subversive leaflets.
Eventually they get caught and sentenced to death, but are saved by the withdrawal of German troops ahead of the a
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Laurie
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the years right before World War One, two teenaged girls meet. Suzanne Malherbe and Lucie Schwob fall in love, which of course they must hide. Then in an odd twist of fate, one’s mother marries the other’s father, making them step-sisters. Now they are free to live together, to put their arms around each other. If this was in a work of fiction I would think it was too much; but this is not fiction, these were real people. After they leave school, they move to Paris where, as part of the Surre ...more
Moore
Dec 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I feel like this is a first draft of something really interesting, but simply not quite there yet. I was, like others here, primed for the (true) story of Lucie and Suzanne, their art, rebellion and love. I always love the story of an unsung woman. I’m a sucker for an island. And I do really admire the way that Rupert Thomson slides into a character so convincingly (thanks to Jane Parsons!).

I’m sure that Thomson has lovingly researched this and filled the gaps with impeccably well considered, s
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Sam
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Never Anyone But You is a love story about two remarkable people. It is based on the real lives of Marcel Moore and Claude Cahun. The book is incredibly moving, as Rupert Thomson’s writing tends to be. The characters in this book will haunt me, as have those in his previous nine novels.
When Suzanne Malherbe, aged 17, meets Lucie Schwob, 15, it is less a meet-cute than an act of creation. A lifelong relationship begins. They invent themselves as Marcel and Claude, gender-free beings who are not d
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Linda
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow. It's rare that I encounter a book that keeps me guessing what the book is about, much less what it is. It begins as the initial spark of love between two young women in early 20th-century France. Then it's Paris in the 1920s, and these power lesbians are surrounded by the famous artists of the age, hosting parties in their apartment where Dalí might just show up (and he does). So, it's all about the opulence and precarity of artistic temperament. (Trigger warnings: Disordered eating and att ...more
mylogicisfuzzy
I saw a review of Never Anyone But You in The Guardian and thought how fascinating, I'd never heard of Claude Calhun and Marcel Moore, I'd like to know about them. So I googled their photographs and then, I got lucky, there was the Modern Couples exhibition at the Barbican, featuring, among many other couples, Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore. Loved the photograph of Claude, painted head in front of a mirror, very ahead of its time, provocative, defiant, confident.

I think Thomson is very good when
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Caren
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thomson's fictionalised memoir of Suzanne Melherbe (aka Marcel Moore) and her forty year love affair with Lucy Schwob (aka Claude Cahun) is thoroughly engaging. Their life-long struggle to defy gender boundaries extends to their personal opposition against all oppression - in art, in ideology, and perhaps most bravely, against the Nazis in WW2 in occupied Jersey. Thomson's research into the lives and lifestyle of these intense women is meticulous, capturing their personalities with such skill: t ...more
Toni
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Des Foley
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Never Anyone But You by Rupert Thompson tells the true life story of Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe, who first met each other in early adolescence and remained together (as lovers and partners) for the rest of their lives.
Schwob changed her name to Claude Cahun, and Malherbe took the name, Marcel Moore, and both reinvented themselves as artists in 1920s Paris. They were involved with the Surrealist movement, or at least with the main movers of that movement, but always kept themselves on the
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