Chapter 1 Summary
David Bourne and his wife, Catherine, are newlyweds spending their honeymoon on the Riviera in the south of France. It is spring, and they enjoy the leisurely pace of the seaside town—its history, its food, its Old-World conveniences. They are learning about each other’s habits and eccentricities, reveling in each other’s company. Catherine reflects that she always gets hungry after making love, which David says is only normal when one is in love. David comes up with plans on how to spend the day, claiming that he is the inventive type. Catherine says that she is the destructive type, warning David that she will destroy him.
The couple sits at the outdoor café, watching the people as the people watch them. They are dressed similarly and even look alike. People often mistake them for brother and sister. There are few other tourists, as this is before the Riviera built casinos and became such an attraction. Their casual dress sets them apart from the natives, but Catherine’s shorts provoke disapproval only from the local priest. They go to mass on Sundays, giving freely to the collection. The priest therefore does not say anything about Catherine’s shorts.
Catherine decides she will write a few letters and then later join David for some fishing. The waiter offers David special bait and promises to come later to help them. David fetches the fishing pole and goes out alone, without any luck. At last he hooks a sea bass, just as the waiter arrives to give him advice. David reels the fish in, walking it along the canal, drawing quite a crowd. Catherine sees him from her window and rushes down to help. He reels it in successfully to much fanfare from the crowd. The fish weighs fifteen pounds, so David decides to sell it since the sea bass is too big to cook for just the two of them. The restaurant ends up cooking the fish for the couple.
Catherine tells David that she has a surprise for him, but she will not yet reveal it. She warns him the surprise is dangerous and that he might not like it. They go to their room and make love. Afterward, Catherine warns David that she is going to be "changed" especially for him. Catherine dresses, telling David that she must go alone to Aigues Mortes in connection with the surprise she has planned. In her absence, David walks along the beach, feeling empty after having made love.
David and Catherine have been married for three weeks, and David finds he is extremely happy in this new world. He wonders about the promised change in Catherine. Catherine returns with her hair cut in a boy’s style. She tells David that she is a girl, but now she is a boy too and can do anything because she is both sexes. Later in bed, Catherine says that now David is a girl and she is "Peter." The two of them are interchangeable. In his heart, David bids the Catherine that he knew good-bye.
Chapter 2 Summary
On the beach, Catherine takes a nap. David swims in the ocean even though the water is colder than it looks. Afterward, he sits by Catherine, thinking of her claim the night before that they have made “dark magic” by her "change." Despite her boyish appearance, David cannot stop focusing on her breasts. He worries, however, about what effect his wife's "change" will have on them.
David puts suntan lotion on Catherine, waking her up. He tells her to go back to sleep and finish her dream. Later they go swimming together and then drink on the shore. Catherine asks David if he minds that they are now brothers instead of husband and wife. He tells her he does not and reapplies the suntan lotion on her. She tells him that she is trying to be a good girl, that they do not have to worry that the “night things” will come in the day.
At the hotel, the postman delivers three large envelopes to David. They are from his publishers and contain advertisements for his book as well as review clippings, most of which are excellent. The book is now on its second printing on the strength of the prepublication reviews alone. He does some...
(The entire section is 14,384 words.)