Muriel, a writer nearing 50 whose older lover won't live with her in Paris, meets a man on a train - Samuel, an Arab. He's attracted to her and pursues her, dropping in, asserting himself. She's willing to connect. He's passionate, then boorish, then jealous and possessive. He seems fixed on "Who's the strongest?," while she wants respect and trust. She's self-possessed as well as sexually charged, willing to laugh, and alternately firm and forgiving. He has little money, no immigration papers, few prospects, and a gambling jag. What does each want, and why does she stick with it? Is this colonial strife, war between the sexes, or a love story?