Christa Seeley's Reviews > The Ravishing of Lol Stein

The Ravishing of Lol Stein by Marguerite Duras
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's review
May 12, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: 1001-books, 2011
Recommended for: People who like Lolita
Read in May, 2011 — I own a copy

This review can also be found at Christa's Hooked on Books --> http://christashookedonbooks.blogspot...

Lol Stein is a jilted lover. In one night she watched her love, Michael Richardson fall into love with another right in front of her face. As her life adjusts from the shock she finds herself married, with children but never quite the same. When she finds herself back in her hometown she is reunited with her old friend Tatiana, the only other witness to Michael's bretryal. She finds herself drawn to Tatiana in an obsessive, fairly creepy way. She succumbs to her voyeuristic urges and uses Tatiana's lover, John, as a way to get closer to the initmacy she really wants.

This book was beyond bizarre. Lol Stein's life is disastrous in such a way that you can't help but stare at it. It was like a car accident that you know you should look away from but just keep watching. Her obsession with Tatiana is creepy. That being said it's really well written so it's incredibly compelling Just as Lol is obsessed with Tatiana, you find yourself obsessed with Lol and her voyeurism. The book was first published in the 1960s, so I think it was probably pretty risque for its time. Lol is unable to act on her feelings and thoughts due to societal pressures, the fact that both women are married etc etc and it drives her to these acts of voyeurism. The emphasis on discrepancy from the sexual norm and the madness that accompanies it in this novel sometimes made me think of Lolita.

The one thing I really didn't like about this novel was John. Not only is he Tatiana's lover and her husband's best friend, he also finds himself in love with Lol and enagages in an affair with her as well. He's the narrator of this story, so all events are described from this twisted position. He makes these grand assumptions about what Lol is thinking or her motivations but its pretty clear that his understanding is limited. I found that it just made me frustrated having such an unreliable narrator.

This book is incredibly well written. It was my first experience with Duras but I'm dying to pick up The Lover now. If you are going to read it though you may have to prepare yourself for some uncomfortable moments. If in fact Lol loves Tatiana (and I'm not convinced that what was actually going on was love) then it is a dark and disturbing side of love. Duras does a great job of bringing you face to face with this more unpleasant side of human interaction. Do I recommend you read it? I'm not sure honestly, I'm still trying to process it myself (which could be a recommendation in itself).

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Quotes Christa Liked

Marguerite Duras
“She had lived her early years as though she were waiting for something she might, but never did, become.”
Marguerite Duras, The Ravishing of Lol Stein

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