Begins, "Ugliness in a woman is a mortal sin. If you're beautiful, you turn heads for your beauty. If you're ugly you turn heads for your ugliness."
A middle aged woman runs through a semi-darkened wood. She holds a suitcase in her hand, drops it and continues to run toward an open field. This is Violette, the World War II black market entrepreneur.
The suitcase is opened and bloodied meats and sausages are pulled out of neatly wrapped, white cloths. She is led down an ancient hallway by blue uniformed men, then placed in a cell, the skeleton key is turned and it is locked.
An incredibly peeved Violette returns across a green, leafy field at dawn toward a small, country farmhouse and storms up the stairs but not before taking money out of her underwear to give to her landlord on her way up. When she gets to her room she loudly interrupts her roommate, Maurice and his writing. He does not look up at all, but while adding ink to his pen, says, "Where did you get to? I was worried sick."
She throws off her shoes across the room, then sits to take off her stockings. "Because of you, I spent three nights in prison," she laments angrily to him. It was his sausage contact apparently.
They continue to quibble. He reminds her that if it were not for him, she would be starving like so many left behind in Paris. Their domestic life is filled with argument as Violette does not care that Maurice is homosexual as much as he seems to. Their partnership was brought on in order to survive the war as both enjoy members of their own gender and posing as a small village married couple averts many risks.
The story is one that reminds me of how many people found themselves living in oddball circumstances during the time. Maurice leaves as Violette stomps her foot and cries, only to watch him dash for the bus along a country road. It is Maurice who inspired her to write, to put all her sex, anger and energies into words.
And so is born Violette LeDuc, the bestselling author, who helped break many barriers for women's sexuality along with the intellectual, Simone de Beauvoir. Both women wrote about sex directly in a manner that had never been published before.
Sadly, her friend is never repaid for his inspiration to her. But Violette carries on, through ups and downs that consist of breakdowns about money, loneliness and over all ill health. She writes about the coldness of her mother growing up. Her mother thanks her for her this sarcastically, saying that she is made out to be a monster. But her mother stays by her side the entire time.
Violette is an impassioned, imperfect and sometimes ridiculous character who it is a joy to know. "Mine is not an isolated case. I'm scared of dying and sorry for being in the world." But she lived her life, and put it all onto pages, thousands of pages, by hand.
By Sarah Bahl