By Cecile depicts Post-WWII France as it reels from war and recovery. In Paris, an orphan girl, finds refuge with an older man. He introduces her to nightclubs, intellectuals, artists (Jean Cocteau, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Eartha Kitt!), and non-monogamy. When she falls for his mistress, she begins to live a life she deems worthy of writing about . . . but only under the pseudonym of her husband.
Tereska Torres(1920 - 2012, NYT obituary) is the author of Women's Barracks, which is widely considered to be the first lesbian pulp novel, and has sold over four million copies.
"This special edition of Women's Barracks makes possible a rich new cultural discussion. Many of the themes of our present-day queer and feminist debates are here—the body, desire, questions of innocence and engagement with the world. As a lesbian historian, as a citizen of a war-torn world, simply as a reader, I found this 1950 novel, considered obscene in its own time, moving, arousing, and deeply interesting."
"Tereska Torres's story speaks in powerful counterpoint to 1950s contemporaries like Norman Mailer, Henry Miller, and James Jones about sexuality, providing a much-needed woman's point of view on contentious matters. It's also a great read."
"Women's Barracks stands not only as a classic in our literary heritage, but as a fascinating view of the intensity and resilience of the lesbian spirit."
"Madame Torres has re-imagined a youthful Colette (here called Cecile) in the infinitely seductive post-World War II period in Paris, where she moves like a sleeping princess through the perverse fairy tales of man-made cafe society. By Cecile is a sharply perceptive novel."