A revelatory new biography of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre
A Dangerous Liaison tells the intense, passionate and sometimes painful story of how these two brilliant free-thinkers - and rivals - came to a share a relationship that was to last over fifty years.
Moving from the corridors of the Sorbonne and the chestnut groves in the Limousin, to the cafes of Paris's Left Bank, we discover how the strikingly beautiful and gifted young Simone came to fall in love with the squinting, arrogant, hard-drinking Jean-Paul. Seymour-Jones describes that first summer of 1929: the heated debates that went on long into the night, the sexual rivalry and betrayal, the dangerous ideas that led people to experiment with new ways of behaving and the deep love that this perhaps unlikely couple shared.
We hear how Sartre clandestinely compromised with the Nazis and fell into a Soviet honey-trap. And, thanks to recently discovered letters written by de Beauvoir, the darker, more dangerous side to their philosophy of free love is revealed, including Simone's lesbianism and her pimping for younger girls for Jean-Paul, in order to keep his love.
This is a compelling and fascinating account of what lay behind the legend that this brilliant, tempestuous couple had created.
“indefatigably detailed and even-handed. [Seymour-Jones] has mastered a great deal of French political life over many decades”
“excellent ... Seymour-Jones's narrative crackles and pops with engrossing anecdotes ... a tautly written, riveting book ... formidable”
“As a portrait of marriage - or more accurately of a refusal to marry - this joint biography is filled with delicious detail, with nefarious intrigues, trysts, betrayals, and outrageously libertine behaviour; and for all its scrupulous research and historical understanding ... it rattles along with the drama of a soap opera ...Massive, lavishly researched and eminently readable, Seymour-Jones's book is as page-turning as its is scholarly. The end result is quite dazzling.”
“[an] excellent biography”
Independent on Sunday
“This absorbing account traces the trajectory of these twin rockets with energy and objectivity”
“Despite revealing the dark side of a pair "glued together by their lies", this assiduously detailed and extremely even-handed biography never loses sight of the remarkable courage it took to break the mould of their century”
“Here is all you need to know: the women they loved and the books they wrote”
“The subject matter could not be richer yet it is the clarity of Seymour-Jones's vision that is most impressive”
The Daily Telegraph