In part 2, Marcelle Tinayre depicts an ideal education for women. A young woman, Hellé, recalls her "second birth," when "books expanded my universe." Tinayre set that description in a novel about the psychology of love, Hellé ( 1899), and her subsequent novels further explored that theme. 1
The novel that set Tinayre's reputation and led to her being nominated for the Legion of Honor appeared in 1905. La Rebelle ( The Rebel) is the story of Josanne Valentin, who works for a woman's magazine, Woman's World. At the beginning of the novel, she has a sick husband and a little boy who, unbeknownst to anyone, is the son of her lover, Maurice Nattier. In brief, the novel tells of Josanne's husband dying, her lover marrying someone else, and her finding a new love. Josanne becomes friends with, and then falls in love with, a feminist sociologist whose book she has reviewed for her magazine. Noël Delysle, however, has difficulty putting his theories into practice when he learns that Maurice has fathered Josanne's son. Most of the novel is a study of Noël's struggle with jealousy and Josanne's steadfast claim to her right to have loved. It is a very interesting example of a man seeking to change in order to live well with the woman he loves.
La Rebelle also contains several sections that reveal much about attitudes and behavior in 1905. The first of the following scenes takes place at the Blue Villa, a home for unmarried mothers. Josanne and her colleague, Mlle Bon, are visiting there to prepare an article for Women's World. Tinayre's description gives a sense of belle époque attitudes to the unmarried mothers in this charitable institution. The second scene shows Josanne musing on the nature of love.