Thursday, 12 May 2016

Book Review : The Lover by Marguerita Duras

Author : Marguerita Duras
Title : The Lover / L ' Amant
Date Published : 1984
Genre : Autobiography
Rating : 5/5
Pages : 117

Set against the backdrop of French Colonial Vietnam , The Lover reveals the intimacies and intricacies of a clandestine romance between a pubescent girl from a financially strapped French family and an older, wealthy Chinese man.
In 1929, a 15-year-old nameless girl is traveling by ferry across the Mekong Delta, returning from a holiday at her family home in the town of Sa Dec, to her boarding school in Saigon. She attracts the attention of a 27-year-old son of a Chinese business magnate, a young man of wealth and heir to a fortune. He strikes up a conversation with the girl; she accepts a ride back to town in his chauffeured limousine.
Compelled by the circumstances of her upbringing, this girl, the daughter of a bankrupt, manic depressive widow, is newly awakened to the impending and all-too-real task of making her way alone in the world. Thus, she becomes his lover, until he bows to the disapproval of his father and breaks off the affair.
For her lover, there is no question of the depth and sincerity of his love, but it isn't until much later that the girl acknowledges to herself her true feelings.


" We are lovers, we can't stop loving each other "

A very short book about an intense and tragic love affair between a 15 year old poor French girl and a wealthy 27 year old Chinese man. Disturbing story, beautifully written. The Lover ( French : L' Amant ) is based on the author's actual experience while living in Vietnam during her teen years. Duras wrote about her first affair with a rich Chinese man when she was 70. This just became one of my favourite books of the year. I knew from the very first page that this was a book for me. It moved me so much in so many ways.

I loved everything about it. The story, the characters, the themes, the writing style. This book was so powerful and so stunning that there was no way I could give it less than 5 stars. The one major thing I appreciate about The Lover is the poetic nature of how Marguerita Duras writes. She is worth reading because of her lyrical prose, but not only that the story was compelling as well. It was a memorable and beautiful story!

The characters are so well-developed, so flawed, and so beautiful. For a short novel, it was dense in feeling and the emotion in this story was real. I really enjoyed the gloomy and melancholic tone that the narrator used in the narration but it was hard to follow at various points because the author kept switching between first and third person POV.

Throughout the story the idea of sexual pleasure was described  on almost every other page. In the beginning of the story there was a sense of sex rather than making love Their first sexual relationship was so powerful and I could see a real connection between them. Even though she moved away and he got married, they still had that connection.  For me, the girl was really naive and pure. She was not able to have anaffair based on pure sexual realtions without falling in love. She knew that their relationship, with all the social and racial differences has no future. They were so dfifferent. She was poor, he was wealthy. They can't ever be together. She only realised that they loved each other when they were already apart.

” She wasn’t sure that she hadn’t loved him with a love she hadn’t seen because it had lost itself in the affair like water in sand and she rediscovered it only now, through this moment of music flung across the sea. ”

The last paragraph :

“Years after the war, after marriages, children, divorces, books, he came to Paris with his wife. He phoned her. It’s me. She recognized him at once from the voice. He said, I just wanted to hear your voice. She said, it’s me, hello. He was nervous, afraid, as before. His voice suddenly trembled. And with the trembling, suddenly, she heard again the voice of China. He knew she’d begun writing books, he’d heard about it through her mother whom he’d met again in Saigon. And about her younger brother, and he’d been grieved for her. Then he didn’t know what to say. And then he told her. Told her that it was as before, that he still loved her, he could never stop loving her, that he’d love her until death.” 

This is the type of book that I could read over and over again. A great story of love and desire. Some sensitive issues discussed in this book : Prostitution, poverty, depression, abuse, dysfunctional family, social caste and clonialism. I highly recommend this book to readers who can appreciate such issues.

She needs a father figure.