The Lover is not erotica as such, but I’m including it in my recommendations because not only is this a wonderfully accomplished piece of writing but it is also an intensely sensuous work.
Set in French Indochina around the beginning of the nineteen thirties, it is the story of an affair between a fifteen year old French girl, who narrates, and a wealthy Chinese man in his late twenties or early thirties. But the affair is not the only focus, and the girl also talks at length about her family and about ex-pat life.
As the various threads are woven together, the passionate relationship at the book's core could be said to provide something of a lens by which are magnified social, political and cultural as well as erotic and romantic questions infusing the text.
I found the writing in The Lover to be exquisite. Duras achieves a richly atmospheric evocation of time and place, and the narrative is beautifully fluid and effortlessly confidential, with a strikingly cinematic clarity and an intoxicating, distinctly dream-like quality permeating through the apparently loose association of vivid, shifting scenes.
Beautifully written, fascinating and thoroughly satisfying, The Lover is a novella of substantial poetic and emotional resonance. A masterful, poignant and fragrant book.