Amy Reads Books

She Came to Stay (Harper Perennial Modern Classc)

She Came To Stay (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) - Simone de Beauvoir Otherwise known as 'Never get on the wrong side of Simone de Beauvoir'I first came across Simone de Beauvoir through looking at quotes from her most famous work, The Second Sex, an iconic re-constructionist feminist text. Her ideas really interested me, and so when I found out that she had written novels I was really intrigued. She Came to Stay is particularly interesting as it is based on the real life relationship between de Beauvoir and the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre with whom she had an (very French) open relationship. This novel is based on a particular moment when Olga and Wanda Kosakievicz burst in on the two’s lives.I’m going to admit that I found this novel a little bit of a slog to get through, partly, I think because the plot wasn’t especially very pacey. In addition, I didn’t really warm to any of the characters. I think de Beauvoir’s obvious desire to exact revenge of the Koakievicz girls (down to the fact she dedicates the novel to Olga) really undermines the novel’s potential as Xaviere is portrayed throughout as being a little bit dumb, who expects everything to just be given to her and who is incredibly possessive and prone to jealousy. Pierre himself, apparently supposed to be some kind of really attractive guy, just came across and conceited and self-involved to me. I much preferred characters of the periphery, such as Elisabeth, Pierre’s sister and Gerbert, an actor in Pierre’s company with whom Francoise has a kind of intimate relationship, who is seemingly the only character vaguely bothered by the coming Second World War. De Beauvoir focuses most on Francoise, and her journey towards becoming a ‘free’ woman. She was a generally interesting character, although I felt that de Beauvoir did kind of overdo the continuous examples of her being trapped and then free.I did love the descriptions of Paris, however, this novel really increased my desire to travel there and track down all these amazing cafes that (at least in the 1940s) were open seemingly 24/7; and her writing style was really quite good, reminiscent to me of Woolf or Plath’s journals. Whilst I’m not sure that The Mandarins, another novel based on de Beauvoir’s life, is going to particularly be high on my to-read list, I’m really considering sitting down and reading The Second Sex properly at some point in the future.