She Came to Stay by Simone de Beauvoir


Pierre and Françoise are a free-thinking, artistic couple living in Paris. They invite a pretty young girl, Xavière, to stay with them and become enmeshed in a weird ménage-a-trois. Françoise battles balancing her love for Pierre with her strange dynamic with Xavière.

My issue is that I hate two of the main characters. Xavière is so spoilt and dreadful that I cannot fathom why anyone falls in love with her. And Pierre is an exercise in self-interest and boring a woman to death. Feminists love SdeB but this novel is problematic- two women fighting over a man who is so oblivious and unworthy.

It’s also pretty intellectual with lots of existentialist musings about life and art. All their friends are artsy thinkers too, giving rise to long passages about very non-tangible topics. Pretentious? Moi?

I did find it compelling though- De Beauvoir paints an accurate picture of searing, gut-wrenching jealousy. She dedicates this book to Olga Kosakievicz, her student that her partner Satre fell in love with. I know it’s a cop-out to interpret fiction as autobiographical, but if you’re going to dedicate the book to your relationship’s third wheel what do you expect? Plus an unexpected ending.

Read: when you’re feeling passive aggressive.

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