Book Review: The Lover by Marguerite Duras
July 30, 2011 22 Comments
I’ll explain: On Shelfari.com, in the group Play Book Tag, we’re playing a game where we have to read the top-200 tags in alphabetical order, starting at a tag randomly assigned to you. Tags are things like “crime”, “parenting” and in this case “erotica”. When a book covers more than one sequential tag (say, “crime” and “crime fiction”) you can cross them both off. So you don’t need to read a book per tag if you choose your books strategically. At the end of August, the winner is the one that finished the most tags.
“Erotica” isn’t something I read often, but a classic like The Lover seemed a good choice. And it was. Not much erotic going on anyway. I remembered quite soon after starting reading that I’d seen the movie a few years back, which was very enjoyable too.
The Lover: What it is about
This short book tells the story of a fifteen year old French girl in Vietnam who meets an extremely rich Chinese man who becomes her lover. He is ten years her senior and very much in love but his family does not allow him to marry her. Doing so would make them break all ties with him.
The girl is based on Duras herself who lived in Vietnam as a child. She lives with her mother and brothers in very poor conditions and the weekly restaurant trips for the whole family, organised by the Chinese lover, are very welcome.
The Lover: What I thought
This book is beautifully written and a pleasure to read. The story was familiar to me since I’d seen the movie. I didn’t approve of the story itself – a fifteen year old having an affair with a much older man in a relationship that seems to be very close to prostitution.
But the back story about her circumstances, poor, with a mentally unstable mother, was interesting. There wasn’t much that would make even the prudest person recoil – I would not call this an erotic book at all.
The way it was written made this a good reading experience.
I got this book: from the library
I read this in: Dutch, the original language is French (L’Amant)
Number of pages: 143
First published: 1984
Genre: literary fiction