Belle de Jour by Joseph Kessel

Belle de Jour (Beauty of the Day) was published in French in 1928, but was not released in English until decades later due to its sadomasochistic theme.  Severine is a beautiful young housewife, married to the handsome young surgeon, Pierre, and seemingly living a dream life amongst the wealthy citizens of Paris.  The problem is that although she loves Pierre, she feels no real passion for him and his gentle lovemaking.  Something inside her drives her to search out a brothel in a seedy side of town and become “Belle de Jour” by day, submitting to the rough and dangerous men who frequent the establishment, then returning home to her loving but oblivious husband in the evening.  Her double life leads to a tragedy along the lines of that in Ethan Fromme.  A bit slow in the beginning, Belle de Jour builds to an inevitable climax (no pun intended …. well maybe just a little!).  Recommended.

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