“This is the most beautiful novel of the new year.”—Alsace/Le Pays
“Des amants has all the beauty and energy of despair.”—Impact
Mid-eighteenth-century France, during the rule of Louis XV, was the exact moment when, according to Michel Foucault, friendship among men could no longer have a physical dimension without being a “social, political, and medical problem.” In this beautiful love story, a young peasant boy has just awakened to his homosexuality. Sebastian Faure spends his time tending the flocks in meadows and fields far from home. One day his path crosses that of Balthazar de Créon. The young prince has had a bad fall from his horse, and Sebastian resuscitates him using his knowledge of herbs. Balthazar rides away, but once home cannot forget the youth who saved him. He returns in search of Sebastian and spirits him away to a cottage on the castle grounds from which he will serve as the official medicinal botanist. In no time the attraction the two men feel blossoms into love. They become lovers, not caring what the society around them thinks and aloof to the threat of death on the stake, the punishment that would befall any homosexual discovered at the time.
In one hundred short, lyrical chapters, Arsand unfurls, as one reviewer put it, “the one hundred stages of their love.” However, word reaches Versailles, and when summoned, Balthazar refuses to appear before the king. Meanwhile his mother, the princess of Créon, fearing for her son’s life, tries to appease Louis XV. She reluctantly moves back to Paris, reenters court life in her son’s place, and tries to debunk the rumors, but to no avail.
Daniel Arsand : Daniel Arsand is an editor with Éditions Phébus and the author of several novels, including La Province des ténèbres (Phébus, 1998, Prix Fémina du premier roman), En silence (Phébus, 2000, Grand Prix Jean Giono du deuxième roman), Lily (Phébus, 2002), and Des chevaux noirs (Stock, 2006), among others.