Set in early-18th-century France, Thomas: A Secret Life is the imagined life of Thomas Pichon. We first meet Thomas as a twelve-year old in the small town of Vire, Normandy. Precociously sensuous by nature, Thomas is inclined to poetry and religious/erotic imaginings. A series of adolescent adventures provide striking background to his character. Rejecting parental insistence that he become a priest, Thomas steals away to Paris in the middle of the night. There, nearly broke, Thomas works as a lowly office clerk, joins the ranks of aspiring French writers and makes extra money serving as a part-time spy for the police of Paris. But his careers advance too slowly for his liking, and he finds himself taking regular comfort and release in prostitutes' stalls. A rendezvous with a high-class courtesan brings a new possibility and Thomas plots a future in which he can have his cake and eat it too. Writer, lover, spy: Life is nowhere near as good or as easy as Thomas Pichon imagined it would be.