“Men speak freely of the women they’ve had, and we’re condemned to silence. Why? Aren’t we as free as you? Don’t we, like you, have the right to take pleasure wherever we find it? . . . They praise seducers in art, poetry, and literature and put a mask of infamy on any woman who’s had many lovers. This is the point where the fight must be fought. Women’s morality must triumph, and that’s what I’m working at . . .”
Thus Ariane, unconventional, irrepressible, and irre-sistible, at seventeen the queen bee of the provincial Russian town where, after her mother’s early demise, she lives with her freethinking aunt. But Ariane is tired of breaking hearts in the sticks. Her father may wish to marry her off, but she means to go to the university in Moscow, and she will do whatever it takes to make her way the way she likes.
In Moscow, Ariane is in her element. She loves the glamour of the big city. She’s undaunted by its dangers. Before long, she meets Constantin Michel, businessman, man of the world, man-about-town. A new struggle begins.The inspiration for Billy Wilder’s Love in the Afternoon
, Ariane has the perverse glitter of Nabokov and the disabused curiosity and keen emotional intelligence of Colette. It is a brilliant exploration–engrossing, unnerving, comic, and cunning–of the matchless cruelty of desire.