It's sensational stuff, undoubtedly, but Thomson's skill shows in his restraint - there's an authenticity to the dramatic ebb and flow and a slight detachment to Suzanne's retrospective narrative gaze that becomes increasingly poignant with the passing years. Sensitively realised, but hugely powerful, it's a reminder of how, paradoxically, we need others to become ourselves
This novel brilliantly captures the daringness of their artistic lives, the drama of their resistance efforts and the dazzle of their enduring love.
NEVER ANYONE BUT YOU is a delightful, surprising and highly accomplished novel that puts a hidden piece of history into its long overdue place in the spotlight. Rupert Thomson deftly weaves a story that spans several decades, the Paris surrealists, Nazi-occupied Jersey, heroic acts of resistance, and intense and enduring (and forbidden) love into one seamless whole. I was gripped, thrilled, entertained and deeply moved.
A novel of tremendous beauty . . . a wonderful achievement
Thomson has created a taut, magnificently controlled novel about creativity and personal survival that is a lucid reflection of the period it describes, as the surface of a surrealist picture is lucid . . . Like Cahun's photomontages, it looks like life, but it's not life, exactly. Only art can achieve this degree of realism.
A beautiful and extraordinary book . . . strange and moving, and quite unlike anything else. It's a long time since I read a love story quite so convincing and truthful
Thomson's novel is based on actual events and it's a jolting moment when, as an old woman, Malherbe reflects 'it has not been much of a life'. In fact, it was an extraordinary life - well lived and very well told in this moving story of love, difference and defiance
Arrestingly accomplished . . . Writing with an eerie command of precise detail, [Thomson] slips beneath the skin of characters who experience a crisis and learn, painfully, how to come to terms with catastrophe . . . [a] taut and absorbing novel . . . As with all of Thomson's elegant and troubling novels, Never Anyone But You exerts a menacing - but never histrionic - power.
In prose so sharp it glitters, Rupert Thomson reveals in fiction what inevitably remains hidden in nonfiction - lived experience. Through the measured but incisive voice of Suzanne Malherbe, the reader enters the intimate world of two life-long lovers, artistic collaborators, and anti-Nazi rebels who left behind a haunting photographic legacy. After I finished this acute and tender book, I felt that two fascinating ghosts had become real.
Hands down, Rupert Thomson is one of my favourite writers of all time. I impatiently wait for his new novels and he never disappoints. The atmospheric Never Anyone But You is exquisitely crafted and pulls you deep into the love affair of two extraordinary women. Magnificent. As always.
A quiet, expert, inestimably engaging novel . . . it is his consistent attentiveness to the interiors of these women and their lives that makes this such a lovely reading experience. He's written the kind of book all incorrigible novel addicts will treasure
In this novel about Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, Rupert Thomson tells the thrilling story of how, fusing love and art, one of the great collaborative partnerships of the 20th century mounted an unthinkably brave, largely unsung campaign of political witness and resistance. The voice Thomson gives Marcel is a brilliant invention: flashes of poetry trouble the patina of its self-control, intimations of the wildness and terror of genius.
Never Anyone But You tackles love between two complex people with a tenderness and attention to detail that is almost psychic. He creates characters, then he inhabits them. Thomson has absorbed art history and made it seamless to the story, but what he seems to know best is love . . . Thomson's delicately paced prose inhabits the impatience of young love, the claustrophobic obsession of erotic desire and then, most convincingly, the bittersweet emotion of a woman who is old and anonymous and bled dry by complicity, memory and physical loss. If you are tempted to Google the artists the book is based on, please resist, because what the author has created on the page defies comparisons with the living or the dead.