K.D. Absolutely's Reviews > The Lover

The Lover by Marguerite Duras
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Jul 13, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: french, sex
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Read from July 10 to 13, 2011 — I own a copy , read count: 1

Probably the most famous among the many brilliant works of Marguerite Duras (1914-1996), The Lover (French: L’Amant) is based on her actual experience while living in Vietnam during her teen years. Published in 1984, this autobiographical novel has been translated to 43 languages, awarded the 1984 Prix Goncourt and was turned into a movie in 1992 starring Jane March as the 15-1/2-y/o French girl Duras and Tony Leung as 17-y/o Chinese Man.
Yes, the novel (as well as the movie where the scene above was taken) is only for matured readers as it has descriptive sex scenes. The scenes, including the whole novel, are beautifully narrated. Duras made use of shifting first person and third person narrations. At first, I was confused me but later I thought that the reason for the shifts was that she, at some points, wanted to dissociate herself from what was happening in her life. Looking back, she wanted to recall those parts of her life to be like a dream. This should have taken a lot of courage in her part. As Duras published this book in 1984 when she was 70 years old and already a world-renowned novelist and film director. Imagine telling that you lost your virginity to a Chinese man when you were fifteen years old and you agressively did those sexual positions and uttered those unprintable words.

It was a tragic love affair. Both Duras and her lover were still young when they had all those sex and only realized that they loved each other when they were already apart. I was reminded by the young Rose throwing the Pearl of the Sea to the water while remembering Jack with fondless in the closing scenes of James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster movie Titanic. There is no similar scene in The Lover but the ship cabin scene while Chopin pieces were playing and with Duras was crying was particularly moving and you could feel her pain even just by reading those beautiful passages. It will surely make you remember your first love and trigger the what if questions once again.

In a nutshell, The Lover is like Duras' confession before her death twelve years after. It is about racism. The Duras family prohibited her to marry a Chinese while the rich father of her lover wanted him to marry the daughter of a daughter of another rich Chinese family. That even if her French family was penniless and hungry, they still felt superior compared to Asians (Chinese and Vietnamese included) because they have whiter skin. It is about love that blossomed too early to be be acknowledged as such but too late to come into fruition. It's really about the role of the society and how it influences the lives of the people at both sides (conquerors or conquered) of the world.

Kudos to Marguerite Duras. This is a lot better than her other book that I've read early this year, The Ravishing of Lol Stein (1964). Now, I am geared towards reading my third of her books, The Vice-Consul (1968).
34 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Lover.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

07/10 page 46
36.0% "15-y/o French girl making love for the first time with a chinese young man at daytime."
03/07 marked as: read

Comments <span class="mediumText">(showing 1-5)</span>

dateUp arrow    newest »

Mini In the movie, the lover is 32.

K.D. Absolutely Yes, Jana. In the book, he is 17. Thanks for reading my review :)

amber Actually in the book he is 12 years older then she is, she is 15 making him 27.

K.D. Absolutely amber wrote: "Actually in the book he is 12 years older then she is, she is 15 making him 27."

Thanks, Amber. :)

amber You're welcome :)

back to top