THE PASSION OF MADEMOISELLE S. by Jean-Yves Berthault

THE PASSION OF MADEMOISELLE S.

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Steamy sex in 1920s Paris.

When Berthault, the former French ambassador to Brunei, found a cache of love letters in a friend’s cellar, he became so fascinated that he bought them. This selection, lightly annotated, represents about a third of the “salacious” correspondence, written from 1928 to 1930, of Simone to her married lover, Charles, “something to be read,” Berthault suggests, “with the avid curiosity that an anachronistic pornographic novel might arouse.” Pornographic they are, and tediously repetitive as well, as Simone recounts the thrusting, licking, throbbing, and quivering of their lovemaking and tantalizes Charles with “the perverse ministrations” that she will offer at their next tryst. In the first months of the affair, they engage in oral and anal sex, and she delights in his beating her until she is raw and bleeding. “Do you know, you have so thoroughly whipped these buttocks you love,” she exults, that they are “one huge bruise.” She promises that one day, he will tie her wrists and ankles to the bedposts “and whip me furiously,” a prospect she thinks he ardently desires. Anticipating his desires becomes her way of proving her all-consuming love. “Did I not tell you I was your slave?” she asks. Hardly a sexually liberated woman, Simone reveals herself to be needy, neurotic, and hysterical, desperately afraid that Charles will leave her. “She would have made an ideal patient for Dr. Freud,” the editor comments. About six months into the affair, Simone decides that Charles secretly longs for a homosexual relationship, given his “taste for sodomy.” Charles, she says, will become her “mistress” and Simone the “man.” She even offers him a male lover, who, Berthault speculates, may have hastened the end of the affair. After two years, Charles was weary of his wild mistress.

A sad history of a woman consumed by passion and despair.

Pub Date: Feb. 9th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-8129-9877-1
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2016




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