A new book from Simone de Beauvoir is going to reach readers 66 years after it was written—and 34 years after the feminist author's death. Publishers say The Inseparables tells the story of the writer's friendship with Elisabeth "Zaza" Lacoin, who died at 21 from viral encephalitis, the Guardian reports. It will be released in France later this year and publishers hope to have an English translation out in 2021. Publisher Vintage says the book, which de Beauvoir wrote in 1954, focuses on "the friendship between two young women struggling against conventional ideas of what a woman should be in early 20th-century Paris: chaste, devout, obedient and obliged from a young age to set aside her own interests and passion."
Literary agency 2 Seas says the novel was "too intimate" to be published in de Beauvoir's lifetime. In her 1963 memoir Force of Circumstance, de Beauvoir said she showed it to then-partner Jean-Paul Sartre and put it aside after his harsh assessment, the New York Times reports; she wrote that the book "had no inner necessity." Simone Le Bon-de Beauvoir, the writer's adopted daughter, says she has wanted to publish the manuscript since she first read it. "When she wrote it, in 1954, she had already honed her craft as a writer," Le Bon-de Beauvoir says. "She destroyed some works that she was unhappy with. She didn't destroy this one. About her papers, she told me, 'You’ll do as you think is right.'" As the executor of de Beauvoir's estate, she plans to publish more novels and short stories by the writer in the years to come. (Read more Simone de Beauvoir stories.)