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She Came to Stay Paperback – March 8, 2013

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Editorial Reviews


"One of the most acute and thoughtful achievements of French fiction at mid-century. -- >>

Behind the sympathy there is curiosity. . . . A writer whose tears for her characters freeze as they drop. -- Sunday London Times

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (July 17, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393318842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393318845
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Rufus Burgess on August 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
"She Came to Stay" is mostly a non-fictional account of a menage-a-trois between Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Olga Kosakievicz (who the book is dedicated to). Kosakievicz was a student of Beauvoir's and later developed a relationship with Beauvoir and Sartre. They were the dominate members of the trio and Kosakievicz was more of a submissive tag-along. Even after the trio split up Kosakivicz would remain financially dependent on Sartre and remain close friends with Beauvoir.

Beauvoir, much like Sartre, uses fiction as a way to explain philosophical concepts such as freedom and bad faith. "She Came to Stay" was published in 1943 and written at the same time Sartre was working on "Being and Nothingness." Beauvoir actively helped Sartre in his writing and the philosophical undertone of "Being and Nothingness" is apparent in "She Came to Stay."

Beauvoir's first novel does have two possible flaws. First, the writing is not pulp fiction. Like Sartre's writing it sometimes sacrifices the story for philosophical reasoning. This is not necessarily a flaw but it does make some sections of the novel rather dry. Second, Beauvoir's account of her emotions and actions are sometimes rather restricted. The novel was published in 1943 and she was still in contact with nearly everyone she wrote about. Her posthumously released "Letters to Sartre" give a much more detailed account of her affair with Olga.

"She Came to Stay" is a good novel to read for anyone interested in Beauvoir, the French intellectual elite of the late 1930's, or taboo relationships.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is Simone's first published novel and writing this book removed her own writer's block and enabled her to go on to win the Prix Goncourt and, of course, write "The Second Sex." While it is hardly "feminist," after all, the main woman character has an intellectually intimate but apparently sexless relationship with a man who rules her life, it is a woman's book. How many women, involved in a triangle, have wanted to eliminate their rival? While Simone left her real life rival unharmed, her alter ego Francoise murders her rival. Based on the trio well-known to readers of Simone's memoirs, this is a flawed but still enjoyable work. First of all, it is a little too quotidian. We know that Simone was a work-a-holic who parceled out her day into writing and confering with J-P, but that sort of lifestyle is too accurately portrayed in this novel. Second, there seems to be a basic flaw in the "plot," that arises from the basic situation of the Sartre-de Beauvoir shared life and that is while both Francoise and Pierre can excuse their own sexual explorations, when their protege Xaviere exercises her own FREEDOM OF CHOICE (remember that slogan from the 60s? Not to choose is to choose? That was Sartre.), her elders discipline her. Why does Simone, a woman with impeccable philosophical credentials, contradict her own ontology? At the same time, this book accurately portrays some very real human emotions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer J. Timmons on April 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
Based on the real life trio of Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sarte, and Olga Kosakievicz--a student of de Beauvoir, She Came To Stay is a tale of the complications that arise when a young, precocious woman is brought into a long-standing, deep, and intellectual relationship between two older, "open" lovers. "Open" meaning that they were ideally free to love and have affairs with others.

This novel brims with emotions vacillating from love to hate, jealousy to despair, self-controlled calmness to revenge! De Beauvoir gets inside her characters' thoughts and feelings with an intensity reminiscent of novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

The character of Xaviere stands out as the ultimate manipulative, volatile, and self-centered, young woman who doesn't care or think about the consequences of her actions and words upon others, and who also elicts the best and worst emotions out of everyone around her:

"Impulsively, she took Francoise's face between her hands and began to kiss her with fanatical devotion. They were sacred kisses, purifying Xaviere for all her defilement and restoring her self-respect. With these soft lips on her face, Francoise felt so noble, so ethereal, so sublime, that it sickened her heart; she longed for a human friendship, and not this fanatical and imperious worship of which she was forced to be the docile idol." (pg. 318)

My favorite character is Francoise, who valiantly struggles with her internal battles of reason, love, suspicion, and jealousy throughout the novel. She spends most of the novel trying so hard to be civil and responsible toward Xaviere, but then you find a refreshing turn in her change of heart:

"She drank a little wine. Her palms were moist.
Read more ›
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Stella on April 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book made me sad, happy, angry, interested...pretty much everything. I was going from ''kick her out'' to ''kick him out'', to ''get real'' even if aware of the existentialist ideas behind it and what I am 'supposed' to think about it.

A great read even if some were disappointed by De Beauvoir for preaching one thing an living the other. Hey, we are all just human and this book is so honest it is almost painful!
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