This novel is a strange little reminiscence that takes place in multiple latitudes, timelines, and consciousnesses. It’s the story of a young French girl who lives in Indochina in the 1930s and 1940s who when she is a teen has a love affair with an older Chinese businessman.
It’s strange because since the narrator and the author are an older women describing her sexual awakening, part of me is definitely like “Get it, girl” and because it involves a cross-racial relationship where the gross racism of the time would have otherwise been like, “No!” I am want to say, “Get it girl.” But since it involves a young teenage girl and an older man my brain is like “Noooooooooooooooooooo”. So who knows.
It was a different time for sure.
Instead, I think about something that is bothersome about the novel. In several of the scenes, especially the sexual scenes, the narrator shifts from a first person narration to that of a third person narration. That DOES put it in my mind that there is a kind of psychical break between the reality that is happening and the story being told. In this sense, I am disturbed by the fact that this is a much much older man sleeping with a much much younger woman. And so, despite all the other reasons to want to champion this kind of transgression, my brain is fighting to be ok with it. Luckily I don’t have to “be ok” with it at all. I can simply read about it, set it aside, and move on, without worrying too much about the violence and trauma related to it.