You’ve probably heard before of a movie under the same name featuring a young Jane March as the main character. The story is set in 1929 Indochina, where a 15 year old French girl starts a clandestine romance with an older and wealthier Chinese man.
There is some speculation about this being an autobiography of the author’s time in Asia. Since the “young girl” came from a bankrupt family, she sees this man as an opportunity to provide for her in some way. Although, her lover must’ve known her real intentions, he fell madly in love with her.
Tradition forced him to marry a Chinese lady instead. It was only years later in France, that the young girl admitted her feelings for this forbidden man.
The movie focussed more on the erotic aspect of the book, whilst the book in my opinion focuses more on the coming of age of this girl. The reader experiences her sexual awakening and her search for purpose. Also, you get a different perspective of this subject since it’s based on a time frame where women in general were not precisely free to discover their bodies.
I read this book when I was a teenager and it made a mark on me! It’s one of the stories of self-discovery you simply can’t stop reading. If you’re interested in more facts about this book check out Mastroianni’s On a Pedestal!