Tuten’s latest (Van Gogh’s Bad Café, 1997, etc.) is basically a potboiler romance in academic drag.
Dominique just can’t get herself straight. An American art historian, she grew up in a Long Island town that she managed to escape on the strength of her brains and her eyes, becoming an authority on Goya and Poussin. A superficial leftist in her youth, she fell in love with her college classmate Rex, who was so committed to the revolution that he dropped out of academic life to join student agitators in Mexico. Dominique plodded on with graduate school and studied in Paris for a while under her mentor Professor Morin, who fell in love though more than 30 years her senior. In Paris, she meets a rich American businessman, Eric Wynan, who falls in love with her, too. But she is really interested in getting back together with Rex, now in Paris with some French Communists he met in Mexico. One day in the Luxembourg Gardens, Dominique discovers him out for a walk—with his baby boy Kenji. It turns out that he had the child by a Japanese revolutionary who later died—or did she? He now lives in a working-class suburb inhabited mainly by North Africans, and he works as a bicycle repairman. To help him, Dominique gets Eric to invest in setting up a bicycle shop for Rex—but tragedy intervenes when Kenji disappears. Rex is so distraught that he becomes a Sufi and moves to North Africa. Eric loses his investment, Professor Morin dies, and Dominique is denied tenure. Can things get any worse? You bet: Dominique is diagnosed with cancer and has to begin a grueling course of chemotherapy. Fortunately, she still has Eric to rely on, and he helps her financially. But does she love him? And will she ever see Rex again?
Not so bad for soap opera, but pretty cornball all the same.