“Lol Stein is a beautiful young woman, securely married, settled in a comfortable life–and a voyeur. Returning with her husband and children to the town where, years before, her fiancé had abandoned her for another woman, she is drawn inexorably to recreate that long-past tragedy. She arranges a rendezvous for her friend Tatiana and Tatiana’s lover. She arranges to spy on them. And then, she goes one step further…”*
The above description spells out the plot in almost every detail – in a simple, straightforward and emotionless manner characteristic of the novel itself. In no way imaginable, The Ravishing of Lol Stein failed to impress, move or entertain the reader at all. I salvaged no enjoyment from Lol Stein’s life, nor the characters around her. I refuse to take offense to any readers out there unwilling to continue in perusing this review.
Having read a previous novel written by Duras, I immediately recognized her style and narrative inclinations. Duras writes with description and action. Her characters all commit acts without the accompanying explanation – it appears as if they have no underlying motive to their actions at all. Alright, I take that back – the only instigation characters possess, is to fill the void in there lives. The void of emotion, all claims to feelings of any kind, and even a void of thought.
Lol Stein barely appears to think, let alone be capable to effectively plan out the course of a rendezvous. Admittedly, it may well be the fault of myself, as the reader, to require the author spell out every little emotion or thought to explain the actions of her characters. Perhaps, I lack the imagination or knowledge of the human psyche to determine the reasons behind characters. To author Duras, I fail to measure up to her idea of the reader’s intellect or empathy. I apologize if this is true.
Verdict: A short review today, relative to the length of the novel and my attention span. The novel itself, in the diction and action is easy to read. The difficult part comes from the deciphering of characters and the plot. A classic? Definitely not. An entertaining read? Doubtful. An author to avoid in the future? (At least for me), absolutely.
*Duras, Marguerite. The Ravishing of Lol Stein. Toronto: Random House, 1986.