The Tale of the Rose: The Passion That Inspired The Little Prince, is an unusual memoir of a marriage written by Consuelo de Saint-Exupery. She was the wife of pilot and writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, who wrote the beloved children’s classic, The Little Prince. Theirs was a passionate, tumultuous, childish marriage. He was one of those brilliant shooting stars from another time and place–charismatic, self-absorbed, romantic. “His head in the skies” describes him perfectly. She was the wife he both adored and disliked, that he cheated on time and again but couldn’t let go of, either. She was child-like and demanding, filled with jealousy (with cause!), but she was also his muse and his inspiration.
“Of course I love you,” the flower said to him. “It is my fault that you have not known it all the while. That is of no importance. But you–you have been as foolish as I. Try to be happy…. Don’t linger like this. You have decided to go away. Go now!”
For she did not want him to see her crying. She was such a proud flower….
–From The Little Prince.
It was hard to read this memoir word for word, because I was always trying to figure out where was “true north” in the stories she was telling. But at the same time I was fascinated by their ups and downs, their constant fighting and getting back together, and their amazing lives historically, and I couldn’t put it down. Yes, it was a little bit like watching a train wreck. They were so bad for and to each other–they couldn’t live together, but they also couldn’t live apart.
I knew very little about “Saint-Ex,” as he was called, but I was curious about his relationship with Anne Morrow Lindbergh, whose writing I greatly admire. I’d read that she fell in love with him at one point in her life, found him to be her writing soulmate. So I wanted to learn more. I’m not sure I cared very much for the person I saw through the eyes of Consuelo.
The best part of the book for me was the last section where there were long quotes from the letters they wrote each other shortly before Saint-Ex disappeared over the Mediterranean. Those were profoundly romantic, and quite beautifully written. It was clear that they loved each other, and loved being in love. It was the” dailyness” of marriage that they couldn’t handle.