Carole Maso's stunning, erotic fourth novel chronicles the dark, irresistible adventures of an American writer named Catherine who has come to France to live. Set into motion by a single act of abandonmentCatherine's lover of ten years has left hershe falls deeper and deeper into an irretrievable madness. With passionate abandon and detachment Catherine pursues her own destruction. Forcing the boundaries of identity and the limits of her eroticism, she enters a series of blinding sexual encounters with a poet, a fascist, a young Arlesian woman, a fireman, and three thieves. Eerily she splits herself in two so that she is both the one who watches and the one who is watched, creator and creation, author and character, as she observes herself from afar. "And I would like to help her," the one who watches says, "but I can't." This mesmerizing drama of sex, betrayal, and dissolution is played out against the dazzling backdrop of the beautiful, indifferent Cote d'Azur in summer. Written in a dwindling lexicon with a simple, warped musicality, The American Woman in the Chinese Hat is a dark, uncompromising, seductive work of art.