The Tale of the Rose: The Passion That Inspired The Little Prince

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9780375505645: The Tale of the Rose: The Passion That Inspired The Little Prince
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In the spring of 1944, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry left his wife, Consuelo, to return to the war in Europe. Soon after, he disappeared while flying a reconnaissance mission over occupied France. Neither his plane nor his body was ever found. The Tale of the Rose is Consuelo’s account of their extraordinary marriage. It is a love story about a pilot and his wife, a man who yearned for the stars and the spirited woman who gave him the strength to fulfill his dreams.

Consuelo Suncin Sandoval de Gómez and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry met in Buenos Aires in 1930—she a seductive young widow, he a brave pioneer of early aviation, decorated for his acts of heroism in the deserts of North Africa. He was large in his passions, a fierce loner with a childlike appetite for danger. She was frail and voluble, exotic and capricious. Within hours of their first encounter, he knew he would have her as his wife.

Their love affair and marriage would take them from Buenos Aires to Paris to Casablanca to New York. It would take them through periods of betrayal and infidelity, pain and intense passion, devastating abandonment and tender, poetic love. Several times in the course of their marriage they would go their separate ways, but always they would return. The Tale of the Rose is the story of a man of extravagant dreams, and of the woman who was his muse, the inspiration for the Little Prince’s beloved rose—unique in all the world—whom he could not live with and could not live without.

Written on Long Island in a quiet spell of reconciliation, The Little Prince was Antoine’s greatest gift to the woman he never stopped loving, the only child to emerge from their union. The Tale of the Rose is Consuelo’s reply—the love letter she never could write to her husband—a fable of its own, just as magical, poetic, and tragic as The Little Prince.

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Reading his wife's lyrical yet frank memoir of their turbulent marriage, it's easy to see why Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944) depicted her as the prince's beloved, difficult Rose in his most famous book, The Little Prince. The French writer's feelings for his Salvadoran wife were passionate from the moment they met in Buenos Aires. On that very first day in 1930, he cajoled her aboard his airplane, even though she was afraid of flying, and extorted a kiss by cutting the engine and threatening to drown them both in the waters below. He proposed marriage just a few days later, and the revolution roiling Argentina was hardly more unsettling for Consuelo than the emotions aroused by her swashbuckling aviator-author. "For you I am nothing but a dream," she explains. "But I want you to know I am not an object or a doll; I don't change faces on command." Blending the everyday with the abstract in a style reminiscent of The Little Prince's elliptical prose, Consuelo limns a man who loved her yet couldn't resist the adulation of other women or sit still long enough to build a life together. "You're the kind of man who is constantly in need of struggle, conquest," she tells him. "Leave, then. Leave." So off he went, on flights that often ended in crashes while she waited anxiously (but seldom patiently)--until he vanished for good during a wartime reconnaissance mission in 1944. Written a year later but unpublished until 2000, when it became a bestseller in France, Consuelo's portrait reveals a Saint-Exupéry far more human than the tragic, mythical hero constructed by his worshipful countrymen. --Wendy Smith

From the Back Cover:

"We find in these pages all the tenderness and patience, but also the tenacity, of a woman who loves. Consuelo does not seek to explain or even to understand her husband, she accepts him and leads him to what he must be....Written with a strong and authentic voice, The Tale of the Rose is a book to read for its strength of character, and for the adventure that it offers."
Elle

"Pioneering aviator, bestselling writer and romantic idol, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry enjoyed a celebrity in his lifetime that was surpassed only by his fame after death....Now, Consuelo's side of the story of their stormy thirteen-year marriage has at last become known. In pages weighty with love, passion, betrayal and tragedy, the Salvadorian-born beauty has reclaimed her place in the Saint-Exupéry myth."
The New York Times

"In this memoir we discover that Consuelo is the inspiration as well as the rose of the Little Prince....One of her lovers used to say that with this woman, the danger resides not in her beauty but in her capacity to ensnare a man with words. She bewitches with her voice.Throughout her account of her life with Tonio, as she called him, we hear this fairylike, enchanting voice."
Paris Match

"A great love story that unfolds under thundering skies....We are drawn into a tale full of drama and flair, where the dazzle of the high life is entwined with a tender and tragic hymn to mad, passionate love....It is the greatest love story of the year. Consuelo is a writer of true talent."
Le Point

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