The Other Side of Midnight
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|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
|Followed by||Memories of Midnight|
The Other Side of Midnight is a novel by American writer Sidney Sheldon published in 1973. The book reached No.1 on the New York Times Best Seller list. It was made into a 1977 motion picture of the same name, directed by Charles Jarrott. The cast included Marie-France Pisier, John Beck, Susan Sarandon, Christian Marquand and Josette Banzet. It was remade in India as the Hindi film Oh Bewafa (1980). Sidney Sheldon had written a sequel, the title for the 1990 novel being Memories of Midnight. It was adapted into a 1991 television mini-series starring Jane Seymour as Catherine Alexander. In Japan, it was adapted and broadcast as a radio drama, with a soundtrack by Yoko Kanno and Maaya Sakamoto.
The story focuses on two women: Catherine Alexander and Noelle Page.
Noelle is implied to have been born as the result of an extra-marital affair in Marseilles, France, but her mother never told anyone the truth. Her legal father believes that Noelle's beauty can be attributed to his ancestry. Because of her beauty, she is treated like a princess, and she grows up certain of her importance and superiority. When she becomes a woman, her father decides to exploit her beauty for money. Believing that she is worth more than a common prostitute, he meets Auguste Lanchon, the husband of a frigid boutique owner and a very well-off man, and manipulates him to hire Noelle as a model. It later becomes clear to Noelle that her father sold her to Lanchon and forces her to sleep with Lanchon. She secretly departs for Paris and eventually meets and falls for American RAF pilot Lawrence "Larry" Douglas, who, before leaving for another mission, promises to marry her. However, Noelle later finds out that Larry has forgotten about her and is with another woman. She nearly dies of pneumonia, but a Jewish intern named Israel Katz saves her and gives her money and a job at his aunt's modeling agency.
In America, Catherine Alexander was born to a father who had big dreams but could never achieve them. Because her mother died an early age, she never had a maternal figure to help her with female problems, and grew up to be ignorant of her beauty and sexuality. While she is a witty writer for her school paper, the other girls avoid her under the assumption that she is a lesbian since she has never slept with a man. She eventually drops out and works for William "Bill" Fraser, with whom she begins a relationship and to whom she eventually loses her virginity. However, during a meeting where Bill delegates his job to Catherine, she meets RAF pilot Lawrence Douglas, whom she initially dislikes. Later, she falls for him and they marry immediately, much to Bill's dismay.
Unknown to anyone, Noelle plans to take revenge on Larry. She hires a private investigator, and when she learns that Larry is married to Catherine, she swears revenge on him, Catherine, and, when she finds out that she is pregnant, her unborn child. Noelle continues her pregnancy until her child "can feel pain" and then aborts him. She nearly dies of blood loss, but is saved by Katz. She begins her plan by attracting the attention of famous theater actor-singer Philippe Sorel, and she immediately becomes his mistress. Later on, when Philippe announces their engagement, she leaves him for world-renowned actor Armand Gautier, using her body to make Armand turn her into a great actress. Her plan hits a speed bump when, during World War II, Katz, the only man who has truly helped her but asks for nothing in return, is wanted by the Gestapo for being the rebel "Le Cafard" (The Cockroach). She seduces a Gestapo officer to distract him while she smuggles Katz, with the help of his friends and followers, to Africa.
Noelle later becomes so famous that when she opens her own saloon after the war, she attracts Constantin "Costa" Demiris, a wealthy Greek whose business extends to every industry in the world and an extremely powerful man. She leaves Armand for Costa, whose mistress she becomes, living in his private island and villa. (Costa is married to a beautiful Greek named Melina but despises her because he believes it is her fault that their son died. Melina cannot have another child.) Noelle manipulates Costa to hire Larry Douglas, now a struggling commercial pilot since his impolite attitude easily annoys his co-pilots and his superiors. She arranges for Larry and Catherine to live in Greece, but when she meets Larry for the first time, Larry genuinely cannot remember her. She is upset that her plan is not proceeding as she hoped but is determined to make it work.
Larry becomes Noelle's personal pilot, though she treats him with little respect. However, when she does not treat him like a man and strips off her bathroom towel and dresses in front of him "as though he were some eunuch", he becomes enraged and rapes her. Noelle is unfazed and tells him the truth of their history. Knowing that Noelle is also a powerful woman as Costa's mistress, Larry agrees to an affair. He soon realizes his mistake when his co-pilot finds out but suddenly disappears and, when Helena, his other mistress, is raped and beaten and then reported missing. Only then does he understand the extent of Noelle's obsession with him.
Meanwhile, Larry and Catherine's marriage is falling apart. Catherine is aware that Larry is cheating but still loves him. She gains weight and becomes an alcoholic, and when Larry, convinced by Noelle, comes to her with divorce papers, she refuses to consent and attempts suicide. Noelle convinces Larry that if Catherine is willing to die, then she should die. Catherine recovers and wants to lose weight, and Larry apologizes, inviting her to go on a vacation. However, he abandons her in a series of caves. Catherine tries to find an exit but she collapses. She hears Larry whispering to Noelle about abandoning her and she nearly dies of hypothermia, but the coast guard sees Larry exiting alone. To avoid being caught, Larry asks for help.
Catherine realizes that Larry and Noelle are trying to kill her and tells her doctor, who does not believe her, and tells her that it was Larry who found her and called for help. Before she could apologize to Larry, the doctor medicates her. Stumbling out of bed under the influence of anesthetic, she overhears Larry and Noelle again plotting her death and knew that she had been right all along. She escapes from the house in a heavy thunderstorm and goes into a boat, but she falls out and can't swim. She is presumed drowned.
Because of the evidence against them, Larry and Noelle are charged with Catherine's murder, though her body cannot be found. Their relationship is made public in court. The men in Noelle's life (Auguste Lanchon, Philippe Sorel, Armand Gautier, Israel Katz) rush to the site of the trial to try to help her but cannot speak to her. Bill Fraser is there to stand for Catherine. A sick-looking Costa visits Noelle in jail, saying that he hated her when he found out about their relationship, but realizes that he loves her and tells her that he will use his power to get her out. On the last day of the trial, Costa's lawyer, Napoleon Chotas, informs Larry, Noelle, and Larry's lawyer Starvos about a deal Costa has made with the court: if they plead guilty, Larry will be sent back to America to serve three months in jail and will not be allowed to return to Greece. Noelle's passport will be taken from her, she will not be allowed to leave the country, and she will live in Costa's villa forever. Larry, who now hates Noelle, and Noelle, who loves her life more than she loves Larry, agree to plead guilty. When they do so, however, they realize they have been tricked: there was no deal, and though they would surely have been found not guilty at trial owing to the lack of proof that Catherine was dead, their guilty plea results in death sentences. Costa has set them up. Bill Fraser is pleased with the verdict for Catherine's sake.
Meanwhile, a man implied to be Costa, donates a large sum of money to a convent near the sea. He visits their latest admission, a woman who has lost her memory and who was found by the nuns washed up on the sea shore. The woman is implied to be Catherine. In the prologue, Costa makes a mental note of "Catherine Douglas' favorite flower", and gives the same one to the woman, telling her that all the bad people are dead.
The Naked Face
|Sidney Sheldon Novels
A Stranger in the Mirror