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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars youth and decay, 9 Jun 2011
By 
rob crawford "Rob Crawford" (Balmette Talloires, France) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This is a wonderful re-work of her earlier novel, The Lover. Very sad, the story describes a youth, coming of age, that is set in a deteriorating colonial situation in Vietnam as well as a family in a crisis of addiction and mental illness. In the larger context, you really get a feeling for what it was like to live there then, as well as of the Asian and French colonial mentalities. In contrast to many contemporary French novels, which I usually find very difficult to understand given their willful obscurantism, while exotics the characters are very real and easy to identify with.

Recommended.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Duras when she's writing at her best, 13 July 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The North China Lover (Paperback)
Gosh, this really is my favorite Marguerite Duras book. I've read it twice, and the last read- about three years ago- still is fresh in my mind. Duras's depiction of Indochina and the rice delta is dreamlike as it is erotic. Read this one outside with nature by a large body of water. (Alex Sydorenko, July 1999).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good book, 15 Feb 2013
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This review is from: The North China Lover (Paperback)
beautifully written book. really poetic but also quite disturbing themes. arrived before expected arrival date and the condition of the book was very good. very good price as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent service!, 10 Feb 2013
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Excellent service!
Book (2nd hand) arrived as expected and am very pleased with it. Would definitely purchase from awesome books again!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeper, the second time around..., 4 Mar 2013
By 
John P. Jones III (Albuquerque, NM, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The North China Lover (Hardcover)
Marguerite Donnadieu, who adopted the pen name "Duras" from the name of a small village in southwestern France, was born in what was once called French Indochine, and now is more properly known as Vietnam. I first came by her work via her movie Hiroshima Mon Amour [DVD] [1959], which relates the love affair of a French woman and a Japanese man, both with the psychic scars from World War II. I even decided to visit the French town of Nevers, known for its peace and tranquility, where the French woman had had her head shaved for being a "collabo." With justification, Duras achieved considerable acclaim for her book, THE LOVER [The Lover ] BY Duras, Marguerite(Author)Paperback 08-Sep-1998, which I've read and reviewed at Amazon. Largely autobiographical, it relates her first love affair, which occurred in Indochine, in the early `30's. She is a poor French girl (no Grande Colone here), age 15, on her way from the town of Sadec, in the Mekong Delta, where her mother runs a school, back to her boarding school in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). On the ferry crossing a branch of the Mekong, she "catches the eye" of a rich Chinese ne'er-do-well, almost twice her age, in a black limousine. This novel repeats the SAME story told in THE LOVER [The Lover ] BY Duras, Marguerite(Author)Paperback 08-Sep-1998. It was written seven years after the first, and Duras says that she did it after she learned of his death which had occurred a few years before. Could a re-hashed story work the second time around? Unlike many, I concluded it does, because it is richer and yes, deeper, the second time around.

The narrator grows up in a dysfunctional family (always a good topic for a novel.) Her father died, and her mother was swindled out of her small inheritance, leaving her to struggle to put enough food on the table, and cloth the kids, on the meager salary of a governmental "fonctionnaire," the headmistress of a French school in a small town, Sadec, in Cochin Chine. In age, she is between her two brothers, Pierre and Paulo. Pierre is deeply troubled, into opium, and much else, and causes problems for the rest of the family, particularly the mother, and his other brother. With this sort of background, the narrator feels an utter lack of reticence, and is ready to look life full in the eye. So, when the young Chinese millionaire makes her an offer of a ride into Saigon, she is ready to "grab the brass ring," and rid herself of her virginity.

Duras writes in a clipped, matter-of-fact style, conveying much via strong sections of dialogue. The place of their assignation is a room, one of many built by the Chinese millionaire's father, basically for that purpose, since so many Chinese "arranged marriages" seemed to result in the husband keeping a mistress. After all those years, Duras still vividly recalls how the light would come through the blinds into that room, at all hours of the day. In this twice-told tale, Duras describes in far greater detail how her mother was swindled by "colonial scum," which is depicted even more in Un Barrage Contre Le Pacifique which I shall soon read. Also, she recalls her relationship with her brothers, and, of course, she covers the mother - daughter relationship. As one might suspect, the narrator's new-found extracurricular activity causes her substantial problems back at the boarding school, with the mothers of the other girls leading the charge. Her one true friend, Helene, whose family in Dalat seems to be "dumping" her, may all so be a candidate for "coming-of-age."

Overall, it is a realistic view of the interwar (yes, which wars?) period, of the French colonial rule in Indochina. Duras places in her novel considerable "cues" as to how the book should be depicted cinema-graphically. To me, that is always the problem, since it invariably comes across too nostalgically, too bathed in "mellow-yellow," which, in ways, it was for Duras. For as Rod Stewart has famously sung: "The first cut is the deepest." 5-stars, plus, for this oh-so-relevant insight into what it was like to be a young French girl in one of their colonial possessions. It wasn't all "madeleines" and tea, was it?
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The North China Lover
The North China Lover by Marguerite Duras (Hardcover - 29 Sep 1992)
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