In this spellbinding exploration of the varieties of love, the author of the worldwide bestseller Call Me by Your Name revisits its complex and beguiling characters decades after their first meeting.
No novel in recent memory has spoken more movingly to contemporary readers about the nature of love than André Aciman’s haunting Call Me by Your Name. First published in 2007, it was hailed as “a love letter, an invocation . . . an exceptionally beautiful book” (Stacey D’Erasmo, The New York Times Book Review). Nearly three quarters of a million copies have been sold, and the book became a much-loved, Academy Award–winning film starring Timothée Chalamet as the young Elio and Armie Hammer as Oliver, the graduate student with whom he falls in love.
In Find Me, Aciman shows us Elio’s father, Samuel, on a trip from Florence to Rome to visit Elio, who has become a gifted classical pianist. A chance encounter on the train with a beautiful young woman upends Sami’s plans and changes his life forever.
Elio soon moves to Paris, where he, too, has a consequential affair, while Oliver, now a New England college professor with a family, suddenly finds himself contemplating a return trip across the Atlantic.
Aciman is a master of sensibility, of the intimate details and the emotional nuances that are the substance of passion. Find Me brings us back inside the magic circle of one of our greatest contemporary romances to ask if, in fact, true love ever dies.
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Reading Group Guide
QUESTIONS AND TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION
1. The book begins with a conversation between Miranda and Samuel, who are strangers. What is your first impression of them? What are the similarities and differences in attitudes, beliefs, and experiences that draw them to each other? What are the critical moments in the development of their relationship? Why might Aciman have chosen this opening, given that the story ultimately belongs to Elio and Oliver?
2. Who is the “Me” of the book’s title? Might there be more than one? What does it mean to be found? How are the themes of love, loss, and loneliness explored in each section?
3. Miranda’s father is editing a dissertation that contains parables, which he says prove that “life and time are not in sync” and that we all “have many lives.” How is each character’s story a parable about how time and life are not in sync? How does each have many lives?
4. What is a vigil? What are the vigils that Samuel and Elio are looking forward to in Rome? How does Miranda’s presence affect their experience? Are there other significant vigils in the book?
5. How are Elio and Michel, in the early stages of their love affair, like Samuel and Miranda? What vigils do they establish? What are the differences between the two couples?
6. When Michel asks his father, Adrien, who Léon was, his father replies, “You’re making me remember, and I don’t want to remember.” What is the significance of the story of Adrien and Léon and the musical score, the cadenza, that Adrien leaves to his son? Is there a message hidden in Léon’s work? Why is Elio determined to help Michel discover who Léon was and how he died? In the end, does Michel find out what his father didn’t want to remember?
7. What is a canard? Why is it the word Michel chooses to describe Oliver’s marriage? Is it meant to be ironic? Are there other canards in the characters’ lives?
8. The story of Elio and Oliver is revealed gradually. What do we learn about them in each section? How did Elio’s experience of first love as a boy shape the man he has become? What do we know of Oliver’s life in the years after he left Elio in Italy? What does Oliver’s infatuation with Erica and Paul tell us about him? What happens in the time between the events of “Capriccio” and “Da Capo”?
9. How are the different stages of life—youth, middle age, and old age—depicted? How does a character’s age influence his or her beliefs about life, love, and death? Why does Miranda tell Samuel that “none of it would have happened if you were thirty years old?” How does Michel describe the differences between his younger and older selves?
10. Samuel and Miranda, and Elio and Michel, meet entirely by chance. In the relationships that develop between each couple, as well as Oliver’s fantasy relationship with Erica and Paul, what are the moments, words, or gestures that suggest the possibility of deeper connections? What are real or imagined impediments?
11. Which of the characters believe in the power of fate to alter the course of a life? How does fate or chance impact each of them? How do the lyrics of the Brazilian song that Elio translates for Michel resonate throughout the book?
12. Does Elio fall in love with Michel? Has Oliver ever loved anyone except Elio? Why does love come so easily to Samuel and Miranda? In general, what lessons does the book teach us about love? To whom is it available? What sacrifices does it require?
13. Miranda’s father says, “I want those who outlive me to extend my life, not just to remember it.” Michel tells Elio, “Nothing belongs to the past.” How are past and present intertwined and what are the consequences? By the end of the book, how have the lives of the deceased been extended into the present? Why does Elio feel that his half brother is his and Oliver’s child, and that his father “knew it just as well, had known it all along?”
14. What is the significance of each section title? For example, “Tempo,” the title of the first section, is a musical term meaning the speed at which a passage of music is or should be played. It is also the Italian word for time. How do both meanings resonate? What are the meanings of the other section titles? How are the themes of time and music interrelated?
15. Find Me is a romance, a tragicomic novel that spans generations, with themes of separation and reunion, exile, and jealousy. What are the moments of tragedy in the book? Of comedy? How else do the stories of Samuel and Miranda, Elio and Michel, and Elio and Oliver work as romance? What are other stories of lovers reunited after years of separation?