Marguerite Duras was one of the leading intellectuals and novelists of post-war France. This work, retrieved from the papers she left at her death, consists of four notebooks written between 1943 and 1949 followed by ten previously unpublished short stories and autobiographical texts. She writes vividly about her childhood and teenage years in Indochina, stuck between a mother whom she loves and admires despite her shortcomings and her two brothers - one of whom was paranoid and violent. What emerges from these books is a fascinating portrayal of how Duras' life and work entertwine. Leo, the hero of her novel The Lover, is laid bare here as an uninteresting, weak man, despised by her family because he is a native. Physically he repulses her, but she and her family need his wealth. Duras becomes both whore and saviour to her family. The passages of what would later become the published manuscript of La Douleur are equally compelling. Undeniably tough to write, Duras movingly conveys her expectations and the long wait for her husband's return from concentration camps. She chronicles every little hope and disappointment she lives through.