It’s certainly a warts and all portrait, and Kirkpatrick doesn’t try to defend de Beauvoir when defence seems hard to rustle up. This, after all, was the woman who was trying to grapple with the ethics of existentialism in a way that Sartre was not. But it’s also true that this kind of sexual carelessness seems more shocking in a woman than a man. De Beauvoir did express regret. And in later years, she struggled with the fact that short, ugly Sartre was still juggling an exhausting roster of lovers when she was lucky to attract an admiring glance... Becoming Beauvoir is a book to be read slowly and savoured. There’s too much detail to gulp it down. But it is worth the time it takes to read a fascinating portrait of a woman who inspired women around the world and who changed the way many people think.