She Came To Stay – Simone de Beauvoir


Chosen by Rachel

A fictionalised account of de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre’s open relationship

She Came To Stay is a novel written by French author Simone de Beauvoir, published in 1943. The novel is a fictional account of her and Jean-Paul Sartre’s open relationship with sisters Olga and Wanda Kosakiewicz. It was written as an act of revenge against the women, who nearly destroyed the author’s relationship with the celebrated philosopher.

Set in Paris on the eve of and during World War II, the novel revolves around Françoise, whose open relationship with her partner Pierre becomes strained when they form a ménage à trois with her younger friend Xaviere. The novel explores many existentialist concepts such as freedom, angst, and the other.

All she had to do was make the simplest of gestures — open her hands and let go her hold. She lifted one hand and moved the fingers of it; they responded, in surprise and obedience, and this obedience of a thousand little unsuspected muscles was in itself a miracle. Why ask for more?

It is a decadent story where everything is available and life is for living. The characters are the sole drivers of their lives and their futures, so there is a lot of dialogue and relationship building. This style divided the freerangers, with some relishing the true-to-life structure and others being driven to distraction by the intensity and the constant chatter. Whatever the case, it’s definitely a unique novel.

Published 1949
Secker & Warburg
416 pages

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