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The Lover (The Lover, #1)
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1001 book reviews > The Lover - Duras

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Kristel (kristelh) | 3950 comments Mod
Read 2009
Autobiographical story of growing up in Vietnam. Her parents are teachers. The father dies and the mother stays. They are poor. The mother has a mental illness and doesn't really pay attention to the children. The oldest son steals everything from the family to support his drug habit. The girl, age 15, becomes a lover to a Chinese male.There is no connectivity to anything. She write emotionless and describes sex as something she is observing. Is she actually being sexually abused to support the family and no one does anything to stop it?

message 2: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen | 111 comments I love books that deal with memory, and unreliable narrators, and this hit both buttons. It's a disturbing premise and a bit of a mess of a format and still, it works beautifully as a memoir and recounting of an unusual and passionate love affair. Troubling and intriguing, with beautiful writing.

Gail (gailifer) | 1266 comments I rated it 4 stars also, giving it an extra star for the lush writing that reflected the hot and humid climate of Saigon and the erotic affair that was not love or even lust but pure need. I appreciated the way the plot circled around so that you heard multiple times about crossing the Mekong, the layabout brother, the death of the younger brother, the mother's loss of land and then her mind, and yet never quite get to the heart of the main character's desperate need for her Chinese lover. She is 15 and can not really understand but does know that "very early in my life it was too late". Even looking back after a long and not particularly happy life she does not know why she needed him or why he so intensely needed her, "he loved her until death", "mad with desire for her tears, for her anger", but she understood that this love she had at 15 was the moment her whole life was defined by. The author made me believe that our main character's need to write was to capture this memory, this affair, this "music flung across the sea".

message 4: by George P. (last edited Apr 14, 2020 08:42AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

George P. | 428 comments 3.5 stars. A somewhat rambling poetic tale based on (or accurately depicting?) the author's experiences when she was a teen in Vietnam, while it was still a French colony. She was definitely a skilled writer, and has some great pages, but some bits seemed very unfocused.
Not appropriate for under-15 year olds.
I was interested to read that Duras published another version of this story later, The North China Lover, in a more conventional style. She had originally planned that as a filmscript. It has a higher average rating on Goodreads than The Lover, 3.88, though far fewer ratings.

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