History is stranger than fiction is an oft repeated cliche. Certainly it describes this true story of the love affair between Adele Hugo, the wife of writer Victor and literary critic Charles Sainte-Beuve. Especially given the strange fact that Charles was a hermaphrodite with an unusable penis and female genitalia underneath. “A sex the size of a snail.” It seems that Adele liked this. She did have several children with her husband Victor and did not want any more. The couple take turns narrating their story. For public meetings Sainte-Beuve disguised himself in his mother’s clothing as “Charlotte”. He sometimes thought that Adele loved Charlotte more than Charles.

Humphreys writes well. Love is well worth the read.


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