This book attracted me because of how precisely Trevaynian handles the relationship between Katya and her foolish young lover Jean-Marc. He is all emotion and hope, living for his first love, and she is vivacious but essentially cold; an unattainable joy. Much like Great Expectations, the theme might be that you start with an expectation that love conquers all, but end up learning that such romantics get flattened by the steamroller of feminine calculation.
As for plot, Jean-Marc bounces back and forth between his cheerful lecherous mentor who encourages him, and a bizarre triangle with Katya's twin brother who decidedly does not. The atmosphere seems to go from sun to gloom as he physically travels back and forth, and at every turn, more devious plot evolutions are revealed. At the end, a bizarre twist