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An elegant fable for the modern age, Louise de Vilmorin’s novella Madame de is a poignant tale of honour, deception and fate.
This is the story of Madame de -‘s earrings. It is a story of jewellery, of love, of denial, of pain, of delight, of society, that has the simplicity of a fairy tale, the elegance of an eighteenth century roman-a-clef and the particular echoing loneliness that is a phenomenon of the twentieth century: the circle of deceit that society allows proves fatal to the honesty of intense passion.
This novella became The Earrings of Madame de, a 1952 film directed by Max Ophuls.
Translated from the French by Duff Cooper, Louise de Vilmorin’s Madame de is published by Pushkin Press
Louise de Vilmorin (1902-1969), born in her family’s château at Verrières-le-Buisson, Essonne, was a French novelist and poet, and the most extraordinary of women. Married to a Hungarian count, her lovers included Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Orson Welles and André Malraux. But it was Duff Cooper, British Ambassador to France, during the 1940s, who was the love of her life, and the translator of this novella. John Julius Norwich, his son, describes in his moving afterword the ménage à trois that he remembers as a child at the British Embassy in Paris.