A prequel to her autobiographical best-selling novel “Fear and Trembling,” Amelie Nothomb’s “Tokyo Fiancee” is a slight tale of love and doubting in Japan. The narrative overlaps the time period of “Fear and Trembling,” recounting the years between Amelie’s return to Japan from Belgium after 16 years and her starting work as a translator in a publishing corporation with all its numerous and disastrous results.

These interstitial years document Amelie’s relationship with Rinri — a 20-year-old sometime student who would like to learn French even though he’s studying it at university. The couple meet in a cafe and — after rather cliched and nonhumorous misunderstandings — become friends and then rather halfhearted lovers.

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