Camille Laurens translated from the French by Adriana Hunter

Who You Think I Am

Publication Date: Mar 28, 2017

208 pp

Trade Paperback

List Price US $14.95
Trim Size (H x W): 5.5 x 8.25
ISBN: 978-1-59051-832-8


List Price US $12.99
ISBN: 978-1-59051-833-5

This psychological thriller dissects online relationships, offering a stunning indictment of the way society perceives women in contrast to men when age comes into play.

This is the story of Claire Millecam, a forty-eight-year-old teacher and divorcée who creates a fake social media profile to keep tabs on Joe, her occasional, elusive, and inconstant lover. Under the false identity of Claire Antunes, a young and beautiful twenty-four-year-old, she starts a correspondence with Chris—pseudonym KissChris—which soon turns into an Internet love affair.

A Dangerous Liaisons for our times, Who You Think I Am exposes the disconnect between fantasy and reality. Social media allows us to put ourselves on display, to indulge in secrets, but above all to lie, to recreate a life, to become our own fiction—magnifying and manipulating the double standards to which older women are held when they refuse to give up on desire.

Simultaneously sensual, intellectually stimulating, and utterly relevant, this page-turner will stick in your mind long after reading.

Excerpt from Who You Think I Am

Of course it hurts too, of course it does: the other person’s online, but not with you. You can imagine all sorts of things, you do imagine all sorts of things, you look at his new friends’ profiles—both male and female—looking for a revelation in someone’s posts; you decipher the tiniest comment, you keep cutting from one wall to another, you play back the songs he’s listened to, read meaning into the lyrics, learn about what he likes, view his photos and videos, keep an eye on his geo-location, the events he’s going to, you navigate like a submarine through an ocean of faces and words. Sometimes it takes your breath away, you stand there holding your breath on the edge of this abyss to which you’ve been relegated. But it’s not as painful as knowing nothing, nothing at all, being cut off. “I know where you are”: I needed those words in order to live, do you understand? It’s like that epitaph on an American’s tomb at Père Lachaise Cemetery—I used to love strolling around there. His wife had had this engraved: “Henry, at last I know where you’re sleeping tonight.” Wonderful, isn’t it?! Facebook’s a bit like that: okay, so the other person’s alive but he’s assigned a location, he’s not entirely free, he’s on known territory, even if it isn’t conquered territory. So that little green light kept me alive like a drip, a lungful of Ventolin, I could breathe more easily. And at night it was sometimes my guiding star. I don’t have to explain that. It’s a statement of fact. I had a bearing in the middle of the desert, a reference point. Without it I’d be dead. D’you understand, dead.

“Intricate and cerebral … Who You Think I Am explores the construction of identity and the politics of age, gender, and desire. …Laurens crafts the novel’s nested secrets meticulously, producing tricky and thought-provoking surprises until the very end.” —Publishers Weekly

“Timely and astute.” —Booklist

“Do novelists construct avatars to clarify and shroud the truth simultaneously? Do we all? Prix Femina award winner Laurens (In His Arms) deftly investigates these questions…a well-constructed example of literary/commercial crossover that will prickle readers.”  —Library Journal 

“A harrowing and challenging book that questions the nature of control in an age of digital obsession…exploitative and haunting…Laurens, as translated from French into English by Adriana Hunter, excels at creating an at once expansive and hyperfocused narrative. The reader gets the sense they are watching a caged animal, both observing and forcing her to be observed. The line between willingly giving up her story and being forced to is thin, and as Claire vacillates between reveling in the opportunity to explain and feeling cornered, the reader’s role shifts from audience to antagonist. Combined with the plot’s twists and turns, the net effect is a complex interrogation of the place of women in society—and the role of social media in giving us the illusion of control.” —World Literature Today 

“In this ingenious and intelligent novel, Camille Laurens revisits, like a genius in the virtual world, a romantic encounter.” —ELLE (FRANCE)

“Are women no longer desirable when they reach their fifties? Camille Laurens works against this masculine dictate in Who  You Think I Am, a striking and intricate novel.”   —Le mondes des livres

“Camille Laurens enjoys exploring love, especially the foreplay and the fallout.” —Le Figaro littéraire

1. Which parts of Who You Think I Am do you think actually occurred, and which parts do you think were written by the Camille character?

2. The novel opens with a passage about misogyny. What are the different forms of violence the women in the novel experience? Do any women in the novel perpetuate violence, or commit violent acts of their own?

3. How does Claire Millecam describe Christopher? Why do you think she becomes so singularly obsessed with him?

4. Claire Millecam says on page 60, “Love is a novel someone that else writes about you.” What does she mean by this? Do you agree with her? According to this definition, who in the novel is in love, and with whom?

5. Describe what kind of a person Claire Millecam is. Describe Camille. How are they alike? How are they different?

6. Who do you find more persuasive, Claire Millecam or the Camille of the novel? Do you think either of their reactions to what the men in their lives do to them are justified?

7. While reading Who You Think I Am, what did you find more engaging, the characters, or the narrative structure? Why?

8. Why do you think the author, Camille Laurens, chose to end the book with Claire’s husband?

9. If you were writing the story between Claire Millecam and Chris, how would you envision their confrontation after Chris finds out that Claire Antunes doesn’t exist and that Claire Millecam created her?

10. What do you think Who You Think I Am ultimately says about the state of romantic love between men and women?