Cimetière de Grandson Grandson, District du Jura-Nord vaudois, Vaud, Switzerland
Janine Lahovary (1901-1973) was the wife of a retired Romanian ambassador, S.E. Nicholas Lahovary (1889-1963). One afternoon in wintry sunshine, sitting on a bench in the Promenade des Anglais, Natalie Clifford Barney struck up a conversation with Janine Lahovary, who was Swiss, fifty-six, stylish and in a joyless marriage.
Madame Lahovary knew of Natalie's reputation. She described their ensuing relationship as a mental liberation and a resurrection. 'Natalie Barney has a new love affair. Isn't it wonderful?' Alice B. Toklas wrote to a friend. 'She's the one bright spot in a fairly cheerless world.' Romaine Brooks's response to Natalie's news was cool: 'A love affair can cause trouble at our age, so do be careful,' she wrote.
Natalie reassured Romaine she was 'as ever the nearest and dearest to my heart'. But Madame Lahovary wanted to be with her and Natalie was a pragmatist. She viewed an available lesser love as preferable to an empty bed. When Monsieur Lahovary asked Natalie to leave his wife alone, she asked him to leave his wife alone, too. After he died in 1963, Janine moved from Switzerland to live with Natalie in Paris. She cooked for her and looked after he when Natalie had a cold, Janine put cologne on cotton wool for her to sniff. To Romaine, Natalie described herself as quiet, well-fed and often bored. 'Even at night, each time I awake, you are my greatest preoccupation and greatest love', she wrote to her as late as May 1964.
Natalie outlived her other lovers. She was ninety-six when she died on Wednesday, 1 February 1972 in Janine Lahovary's arms. Two days later, she was buried near Renee Vivien in the cemetery at Passy. A photograph of Romaine was interred with her. Twenty people gathered for this, the last of her Fridays. One of them commented that Natalie would not have chosen to be among them. 'She never went to a funeral in her life.'
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