‘Three Faces of Love’ – a short story collection by Émile Zola

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Three Faces of Love is a short story collection consisting of the three stories ‘For One Night of Love’, ‘Round Trip’ and ‘Winkles for Monsieur Chabre’.

The two longer stories in this collection are also in other collections that I have reviewed. ‘For One Night of Love’ (Pour une nuit d’amour) is in the collection ‘For a Night of Love’ and is reviewed here. ‘Winkles for Monsieur Chabre’ (Les coquillages de Monsieur Chabre) is in the 1984 collection, The Attack on the Mill and Other Stories and is reviewed here where it has the slightly different title of ‘Shellfish for Monsieur Chabre’.

So I bought this collection recently just to get the ten page story ‘Round Trip’ (Voyage Circulaire), which I hadn’t heard of before, and so I could scan the cover for this site’s post of Lurid, Gaudy or Tasteless Covers. The cover is a classic ’60s/’70s cover using sex to sell the book. The first story certainly has a bit of sado-masochistic sex (as well as rape and murder) between Thérèse de Marsanne and Colombel and was probably the justification for the cover design. I can’t help but feel that many readers would have been disappointed when they came to read it though; unless of course they were already a fan of Zola’s work.

There is an informative introduction to this volume. After covering the obligatory biographical details the translator, Roland Grant, gives quite a few details about the stories included. Turgenev helped arrange a contract between Zola and the editors of the Russian periodical, Vyestnik Evropy (The European Herald), such that Zola contributed articles and stories from 1874 to 1880. Pour une nuit d’amour subsequently appeared in a 1882 collection which Grant describes:

The title page has a medallion drawing in pale blue of Thérèse de Marsanne riding on Colombel’s back and plying her whip on that youth’s masochistic shoulders. There is a pink frontispiece portrait of the imperious and heavy-browed heroine.

I guess the editors of that edition had the same idea as the editors of the 1969 collection.

Grant states that ‘Round Trip’ (Voyage Circulaire) was originally published posthumously in the 1929 collection Madame Sourdis. (He also mentions a short story collection by Vizetelly called ‘A Soldier’s Honour’ that I’ve never heard of before.) ‘Round Trip’ is only ten pages long and is quite a humorous tale about the newly-weds, Lucien Bérard and Hortense Larivière who can’t get a moment alone because of Hortense’s mother. Her shop was part of Hortense’s dowry but the mother still lives there and doesn’t approve of the couple kissing in the shop or making any noise at all (the walls are paper thin). The couple manage to organise a two-week railway holiday covering some towns in Normandy much to the mother’s disapproval. But when they’re on the train they still face stern looks of passengers when they try to hold hands and they have to put up with paper thin walls in the hotel rooms. They’re also bored to death with looking around historic buildings during the day. They eventually alight from the train in the middle of nowhere, find an old cottage to rent (with thick walls) and throw away their guidebook – they have a wonderful time! Hortense’s mother however, thinks it was a waste of time as they returned with no more knowledge of the historic buildings of Normandy than when they left.

Three Faces of Love (1969, Sphere Books Ltd, translated by Roland Grant).

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