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by Ania Szado

Pub Date: June 6th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-307-96279-9
Publisher: Knopf

Szado looks at the era when Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is in New York City working on Le Petit Prince, an era complicated by a love triangle involving his Salvadoran wife, Consuelo, and an apprentice couturière, Mignonne Lachapelle.

The latter is Szado’s fictional creation and erstwhile narrator. She originally meets de Saint-Exupéry in Montreal, where she tutors him in English, though as an already famous French author, he doesn’t see the need to learn an inferior language. A year later, in 1942, they meet again in New York, where Mignonne has gone to see why her mentor, the formidable and vicious Madame Véra Fiche, has stolen her fashion ideas. Mignonne winds up working for Atelier Fiche, in part to keep an eye on its wily and unscrupulous owner. De Saint-Exupéry is in a rather deep funk, partly due to political reasons (he remains distraught by the fall of France) and partly since his estranged wife flaunts her American lover so blatantly, demanding they be let into the Alliance Française for its social amenities. The author finds himself attracted to Mignonne, whose delicate manner contrasts with that of his flamboyant wife. However, it turns out Consuelo is aggressively charming as well as aggressively bisexual, and she seduces Mignonne. Consuelo is drawn to Mignonne not only by her beauty, but also by her ability to dress Consuelo in the latest style. All of this domestic and fashionista drama plays out against de Saint-Exupéry’s protracted attempts to work on his allegorical tale of The Little Prince.

High fashion and high drama coexist in equal measure in this insightful novel.