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    She Came to Stay: A Novel (Simone de Beauvoir)

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      Set in Paris on the eve of World War II and sizzling with love, anger, and revenge, She Came to Stay explores the changes wrought in the soul of a woman and a city soon to fall. Although Françoise considers her relationship with Pierre an open one, she falls prey to jealousy when the gamine Xavière catches his attention. The moody young woman from the countryside pries her way between Françoise and Pierre, playing up to each one and deviously pulling them apart, until the only way out of the triangle is destruction.

      An excerpt from a scene in the book where Xavière burns herself:

      Françoise could not help taking a surreptitious glance at Xavière: she gave a start of amazement.  Xavière was no longer watching, her head was lowered.  in her right hand, she held a half-smoked cigarette, which she was slowly moving toward her left hand.  Françoise barely suppressed a scream.  The girl was pressing the lighted end against her skin, a bitter smile curling her lips.  It was an intimate, solitary smile, like that of a half-wit; the voluptuous, tortured smile of a woman possessed of some secret pleasure.  The sight of it was almost unbearable, it concealed something horrible.

      The dancer had finished her repertoire and was bowing amid applause.  Paula had turned toward the table, and now gazed speechlessly with questioning eyes.  Pierre had noticed Xavière’s performance some time before.  Since no one thought fit to speak, Françoise held her tongue; an yet what was going on was intolerable.  With her lips rounded coquettishly, Xavière was gently blowing on the burnt skin which covered her wound.  When she had blown away this little protective layer, she once more pressed the glowing end of her cigarette against the open wound.  Françoise flinched. It was not only her flesh that rose up in revolt, but she felt herself attacked in a more profound and irreparable way, and to the very center of her being.  Behind that maniacal grin, was a danger more positive than any she had ever imagined.  Something was there that hungrily hugged itself, that unquestionably existed for its own sake.

    • Book Title She Came to Stay
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