As they grew up, the Chevallier boys began spending playtime with the three children of a wealthy neighbor couple, Jeanne and Leon Perreau.
Like Pierre and Yvonne, they seemed a mismatched pair.
Mr. Perreau was middle-aged, bald, short and rotund. Owner of one of
His wife, 15 years younger, was a redheaded siren who could set mens teeth chattering with a withering come-hither look.
The couples began socializing, and dinner parties with the Perreaus were the only social events that would consistently draw Pierre Chevallier back home from
Yvonne soon heard gossip about Jeanne Perreau: Women whispered about her romantic affairsa string of lovers that could stretch across the
In the meantime, Yvonne had grown increasingly anxious about her standing with
She developed a case of nerves that led to doctors visits, prescription drugs and addiction to Maxiton, an amphetamine, and Veronal, a barbiturate.
When she wasnt popping pills, she was chain-smoking cigarettes and slugging down coffee. Her sleep became sporadic, and she developed hooded eyes.
In the spring of 1951, Mrs. Chevallier received an anonymous letter suggesting that her husband had become Jeanne Perreaus latest triumph.
She searched Dr. Chevallier's closet and, in a jacket, found a crumpled "Dear Pierre" love letter. It read, "Without you life would have no beauty or meaning for me." The letter was signed "Jeannette."
The French rules of marital manners demanded discretion, if not fidelity. Yvonne made inquiries and learned that the affair was an open secret in
She left her sons with a maid and took a train to
But the trip became a series of humiliating indignities.
First, she was turned away at the National Assembly by an usher who had been warned by Chevallier that his wife was not welcome there.
In tears, she retreated to his
Yvonne retreated to
She next confronted Leon Perreau, her counterpart cuckold. Yes, he said he understood that his wife was Dr. Chevallier's lover. But he had no intention of interceding.