Seduction, madness, addiction, suicide - this was the bohemian world of Natalie Barney and Romaine Brooks, two pivotal figures in the cultural life of Paris at the turn of the century.
Natalie and Romaine met in London during World War I and their partnership lasted until Natalie died 52 years later. They were both American expatriates; unconventional, energetic, flamboyant and rich.
Natalie was known as 'the wild girl of Cincinnatti' and had numerous affairs with other women: Renee Vivien who nailed shut the windows of her apartment, wrote about the loveliness of death, drank eau de cologne and died of anorexia aged 30; and Dolly Wilde niece of Oscar, who ran up terrible phone bills and died of a drugs overdose.
Her Friday afternoon salons in the cobbled garden of her Parisian house were for 'introductions and culture' and were frequented by Gertrude Stein, Colette, Radclyffe Hall and Edith Sitwell. Romaine achieved fame in her own lifetime and after as an artist. She painted her lovers including Gabriele d'Annunzio with whom she had a terrible and tortured relationship, and the ballerina Ida Rubinstein. However her relationship with Natalie was constant and in their eventful years together they threw up a liberating spirit of culture, style and candour.