Texier, author of the 1998 memoir Breakup and three previous novels (Panic Blood, etc.), spins a steely, delicate fictional tale of unaccounted-for years in the life of her own great-grandmother, Victorine, who was rumored to have run off with a customs officer in the late 1890s, leaving behind her husband and two children in Vendee, France. Victorine first met Antoine when she was 16; she was soon to become the youngest teacher in France, and he was intent on venturing to one of the French colonies. As Victorine settles into her work, she meets dark-eyed fellow teacher Armand Texier and pushes Antoine into the recesses of her memory. She and Armand marry in a hurry when Victorine becomes pregnant, but years later, Victorine meets Antoine again and plans rendezvous with him, feeling a "shameful pleasure at the idea that her secret evened out the power" between herself and her womanizing husband. After some deliberation, Victorine agrees to leave her family to move to Indochina with Antoine, where he guarantees to "show [her] a world that [she] will fall in love with." She leaves without confronting her husband or children, and immediately begins to feel regret. As she wrestles with the prospect of contacting her sister, who also lives in Indochina, or even her family back in Vendee, Victorine remains entrenched in a "split reality" where she must convince herself that the present can, in fact, always be reinvented. Texier offers seamless transitions between the past and present, and even the future as an older Victorine reflects upon her days in the Mekong Delta. Lurking questions of empire and expansion lend an extra dimension to this bittersweet romance, reminiscent both of Madame Bovary and Duras's The Lover, making plain the temptations and risks of expanding beyond one's borders. Download and start listening now!