A young pampered, American student takes a scholarship in the South of France and meets Wally, an Algerian who has fled from the civil war. Thrust into life in the raw, she learns of conflict and poverty when she and Wally embark on an affair. He has a wife and family back in Algeria and they separate and Louise goes back to America. 40 years later she sets out to find out what happened to Wally. Magical stuff!
I once knew Algeria by heart. I had it from a direct source, temporarily relocated to France but honest, voluble, and passionate. 'I swear to you Louise' my source would say. 'Don't swear', I'd say to Wally, that was his name, the name we gave him. 'I believe you without that.' But it was a verbal tic he couldn't lose. A rhythmic pacing, spacing of everything he had to say. Then I lost him, we lost each other. His fault, my fault, nobody's fault? I got tired of trying to assign blame.