Customer Reviews


21 Reviews
5 star:
 (8)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:
 (4)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:
 (3)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is This An Erotic Novel?
A translation, this dark self-absorbed short novel is classic Duras. Frequently referred to as an erotic novel, The Lover falls short of that. The novel is much more than the story of a young girl in French Indochina (Vietnam), and her first lover, an older wealthy local man. Duras tells a darker tale of emerging adolescent sexual power and selfishness, a mother-daughter...
Published on 21 May 2008 by Well Read

versus
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read
I studied this book at university, and at first I wasn't very taken with it. It can be confusing with the fragmented memories as this is an autobiographical novel, so required a couple of readings to really get to grips with it. The protagonist may not be the most like able, but there is something very "real" about the narrative. Some describe this as an erotic novel but...
Published on 28 Mar 2012 by Pepper


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is This An Erotic Novel?, 21 May 2008
By 
Well Read "saro319" (Norhampton England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Lover (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) (Paperback)
A translation, this dark self-absorbed short novel is classic Duras. Frequently referred to as an erotic novel, The Lover falls short of that. The novel is much more than the story of a young girl in French Indochina (Vietnam), and her first lover, an older wealthy local man. Duras tells a darker tale of emerging adolescent sexual power and selfishness, a mother-daughter relationship, and the taboos inherent in colonialism and foreignness.

The Lover was awarded the French Goncourt prize in 1984. The strength of the novel is in the underlying despair of the narrator's triangulated memories. The narrative voice the reader hears is of an older woman reflecting on her past. Duras, when writing the novel, drew upon certain aspects from her childhood in Saigon. She was also an experimental writer with an alcohol problem. Her writing style is pared to the bone.

In 1992 the film version of The Lover, was very successful. The eroticism in the film appears to have become a popular misconception in relation to the book. This particular publication has a reader introduction to Duras, her writing style, her early life in French Indochina. I highly recommend the film available on DVD.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intoxicating, 15 Sep 2011
This review is from: The Lover (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Wandering around a bookshop at the age of 21 I came across a paperback with a shiny siler cover. It was The Lover by Marguerite Duras. I opened the book and read the first paragraph and was immediately captivated. I cannot praise this book enough. It is written in a 'stream-of-consciousness' style and draws the reader into another world, another time, another level of reality. I have bought and given this book away about 6 times - to men I thought would appreciate its literary qualities or, more usually, its depth of human emotion and how it says much more by what is left unsaid. I fell in love with the Vietnam of both the novel and the film (also available on Amazon). Even while earning a lowly secretary's wage, I began to save for a trip to Vietnam. At the age of 31 I made my trip to Vietnam and it was much more than everything I hoped it would be. This book is in my top 5 and is adorable. For anyone who wants to experience something totally different via a novel, in terms of location, history, style of writing and emotion, this is the novel for you. Enjoy...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Lolita's point of view ..., 6 Feb 2011
By 
John P. Jones III (Albuquerque, NM, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Lover (Flamingo) (Paperback)
...well, not literally, but there certainly are parallels. This novella is set in Indochina, in the `30's, and is told, via fragments of the memory of an older woman now living in France, of her life as a precocious 15 year old, and her first sexual experiences, and perhaps, with the emphasis on the uncertainty, despite the title, of her first love. The book is light on eroticism; it is far more about the female use of sex for, if you will, "empowerment," which, in part, involves escape from an unhappy childhood situation. In gold lame high-heels and a foppish male hat, she meets her lover (or victim?), a 27 year old son of a Chinese millionaire, on a ferry as they cross the Mekong.

Marguerite Duras wrote the screenplay for the movie, Hiroshima Mon Amour [DVD] [1959] released 50 years ago. Far more so, the movie IS about love; like "The Lover," the love is trans-cultural, and each individual has experienced a significant trauma: the Japanese male was near Hiroshima, and lost family members there when the A-Bomb was dropped; she is French, and had a German officer as a lover in the village of Nevers, known for its "calme," and after the war she was ostracized as a "collabo," including having her hair shorn. "The Lover" also concerns West-East love, again, between a French woman (girl) and an Oriental male. The "trauma" each has experienced is more internalized, relating to their family. He can never be his "own man," living under the shadow of a domineering father. She lives in a very dysfunctional family, with a worthless elder brother, who keeps the family mired in poverty through his drug and gambling addictions, and a mother, from her Picardy farm, who worships him, largely neglecting the other two siblings.

For a novella, Duras has more insights than many a 600 page novel. Her style is rich and dense, and I do NOT feel that she is projecting the wisdom of a middle age woman back onto a 15-year old. Consider: "I know it's not clothes that make women beautiful or otherwise, nor beauty care, nor expensive creams, nor the distinction or costliness of their finery. I know the problem lies elsewhere. I don't know where. I only know it isn't where women think." Or, "You didn't have to attract desire. Either it was in the woman who aroused it or it didn't exist. Either it was there at first glance or else it had never been. It was instant knowledge of sexual relationships, or it was nothing. That too I knew before I experienced it."

The book is also about the "expat" existence, that transcends the 40,000 French "colons," who were the raison d'etre for drawing both France, and later, the United States, into seemingly endless war, first for their "lifestyles," but later, for the "glory," "honor", and eventually, "saving face," of their respective countries. But this particular expat story did not involve riches, and a fancy lifestyle, but poverty, the "barely getting by," that was rather surprising, even though they too had servants. Consider: "... from the frightful loneliness of serving in out-posts up-country, stranded amid checkered stretches of rice, fear, madness, fever and oblivion." They lived primarily in Sadec, a small town in the Mekong delta, which alas, I had never heard of. They did have a large house, with the veranda, and could see the "mountains of Siam," in the evening, which was the only puzzling part of the book, since clearly you couldn't.

That quibble aside, Marguerite Duras has written a rich, beautiful novel, concerning the time when we thought we were fresh, and awaking into one of the most fundamental aspects of human existence, and as will happen all too frequently, it was tawdry.

(Note: Review first published at Amazon, USA, on July 17, 2009)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read, 28 Mar 2012
This review is from: The Lover (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) (Paperback)
I studied this book at university, and at first I wasn't very taken with it. It can be confusing with the fragmented memories as this is an autobiographical novel, so required a couple of readings to really get to grips with it. The protagonist may not be the most like able, but there is something very "real" about the narrative. Some describe this as an erotic novel but I have to disagree, if this is what you want you will be left disappointed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, poetic, beautiful, 17 Nov 2009
This review is from: The Lover (Flamingo) (Paperback)
The first thing to note about this book is that it is one of three accounts of supposed real life events in the writer's life, when she was a young girl growing up in Indochina. The other published version, in a script-like form, is The North China Lover, which alters certain details and certainly fills in more of the characters and time. Either way, she is the poor white colonial girl, he is the rich son of a Chinese millionaire. This is a highly romanticised version of the truth. To understand the truth (or as much of it as is known), it is worth tracking down a biography of the writer. But as far as this book is concerned, it is no straightforward novel, and to read it as such will almost certainly result in disappointment. Duras takes an interesting approach to this fictionalised tale of her adolescence. She alternates both between the present and past tense, and between the first and third person voice. She describes some scenes in the moment, like vivid memories, but sometimes she appears to be standing outside herself - as she does in the scene when she imagines a photograph of herself as she stands on the ferry crossing the Mekong River. This is the fateful journey that introduces her to her rich lover. She sees herself from the outside, perhaps as the lover sees her, or God. She thinks there ought to be a photograph of such an important moment, but there isn't, because who would have thought that trip across the river would be so fateful.

This story of forbidden love, the 'memories' of it, are interrrupted by more recent recollections, and thoughts on people she once knew. The novel then becomes fragmented, which is emphasised by the way paragraphs are framed almost like sections. It's precisely this fragmentation that divides readers. Those who want a romantic or erotic read, with a more linear plot are liable to be frustrated by the constant interruptions in the Indochina plot. But Duras was an elderly woman by the time she wrote this book, and it makes sense that she might weave the events of her youth into the wider context of her life. There's a quality of musing at times.

What Duras, who had a reputation for arrogance, was really doing, was making a romantic legend out of what was probably a less than edifying erotic relationship. Read The Lover for what it is, a classic of fictionalised memory, and not for what it might have been - an exotic bonkbuster/lovestory with a simple linear plot. And if you're interested, check out The North China Lover which fills in more of the girl's family tensions. Otherwise, this is a beautifully written, poetic 'novel', written in a spare feminine style. If modern classic fiction interests you, or important French literature, then this is certainly well worth a read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've ever read, 30 Nov 2004
This review is from: The Lover (Flamingo) (Paperback)
I chanced across this book when waiting for some female friends who went to see <<Bridget Jones>> at the cinema. I finished book just as the film finished. I'm glad I read this book rather than saw that film.
A flow of consciousness embedded in romantic fatalism. Very feminine writing. It took me on a journey of youthful experimentation, of not quite knowing but knowing, of cultural conflicts, of the exotic Indo-China in that colonial era of a faded dusty yellowness.
Strongly recommended to all those who enjoy the writing of V Nabokov.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE LOVER is a masterpiece by a great writer, 22 July 2011
By 
John Foster (Bournemouth, Dorset United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Lover (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) (Paperback)
THE LOVER is a wonderful, rich, evocative novel -- but a work of fiction, hardly a guide book to Vietnam which would be obvious to anyone of reasonable intelligence.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars pure poetry, 12 Feb 2007
This review is from: The Lover (Flamingo) (Paperback)
I have read this book more than once and become transported every time to the exotic Indochina and the searing romance between the young girl and the chinese man of the title. Even more beguiling than this are the tales of festering colonialism as the girl rages at her brother and mother for making her endure the poverty and shame of being both white and poor. This is a very complex book which is easy to read thanks to the style of ms Duras' writing, that of flowing poetry.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars A Lacklustre Memoir, 26 Jun 2013
By 
Herman Norford "Keen Reader" (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Lover (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) (Paperback)
One of my bugbears in literature is to encounter a memoir being labelled a novel. I know the novel is an art form that defies definition and exactness. Nonetheless, there are occasions when it is clear to see that what one is reading is a memoir and should be labelled and treated as such. The Lover by Marguerite Duras is basically a memoir rather than a novel. I suppose one of its features that allows it to pose as a novel is its post modernist approach.

The story is that of a young 15 year old nameless girl living in Vietnam, then under the control of France, with her head-mistress mother and two brothers. A man of Chinese decent meets and has an affair with the 15 year old girl. The affair creates some issues of conflict between the girl, her family and the Chinese man. To some extent the affair is bold and brazen in that it takes place in public.

In regards to what this novel or memoir is about for many it is first and foremost about the relationship between the girl and her Chinese lover. But equally important is the narrator's relationship with her two brothers and mother. The story of the relationship is a painful account of family dynamics and I found this aspect of the novel/memoir more interesting than the illicit love affair.

The Lover begins in a manner that reads like a memoir and proceeds in this style right through to the end. The narrator tells us: "The story of one part of my youth I've already written more or less ... what I am doing now is both different and the same." At least some of the events conveyed are supposed to have been experienced by the author Marguerite Duras. I was left with the impression that the events were perhaps not sufficient to flesh out a fully fledged memoir so the next best thing to do was to use the format of the novel in which anything goes.

I suppose one of the reasons why The Lover is highly praised as a novel is its style. It could be said that it fits nicely into post modernism. There is no grand over arching scheme. The narrative moves randomly back and forth in time, the sentences are short and staccato in style, and the book is divided into short vignette-like sections. As for the narration it switches from first to third person randomly even within the same paragraph.

As a means of experimenting the above is fine and interesting but it does not detract from the fact that one is reading a memoir with not much to say. I found the story of the love affair lacklustre and was more interested in the painful relationships among the narrator's family.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Heartrending, bitter youth memories, 7 Sep 2012
This review is from: The Lover (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Dramatic, intense memories of an aging Frenchwoman with emphasis on her teens. They unfold during the 1920s and -30s in French Indo-China, today's Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. The father, a senior colonial official died when she was a toddler. What remained was a family from hell, headed by a mother who does everything wrong. Her dissolute, elder son who is her favorite, terrorizes her younger son and daughter. A headless, autistic family emerges whose members do not talk with, look at, or greet each other. But the elder brother and Mother beat up the younger daughter and son routinely amidst deepening poverty. Because of the mother's terrible investments. Because of her firstborn's bad karma; he steals even from the servants.

On a ferry across the Mekong river, the teenage narrator is invited by a 27-years old Chinese millionaire and is driven to her boarding school in his large, black, chauffeur-driven car. What follows reveals Duras' powers of description, which served her well as a movie director in later life. The white 15½-year old, skinny, weirdly-dressed girl and the Chinese man begin an affair. He is obsessed with her but his father has long ago arranged his marriage. She does not love him, but enjoys the near-death climaxes of their encounters and has vague hopes all this will open a window of opportunity: she has willfully chosen a fate the ruling whites in the colony disapprove of. In school, it isolates her more than ever before. Her aim? Who knows? Fleeing mother and the devilish brother, the heat, the hopeless poverty and life's chaos to some quiet, secure place to write about her ordeal, then about other, new experiences?

Marguérite Duras (1914-96) was a novelist, scriptwriter, playwright and film director. The version in front of you became a successful movie in 1992, despite a conflict between Duras and its makers: shortly before its première she published "The North China Lover", another version of her formative years...

Grand, small novel filled with deep anger and hatred. Duras was so troubled, speechless in disgust about her youth, that it took her several efforts to put it all on paper. To be read more than once.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Lover (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)
The Lover (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) by Marguerite Duras (Paperback - 26 Feb 2010)
£9.59
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews