Lisa Hilton's top 10 scandalous French novels

Lisa Hilton's Athénaïs, The Real Queen of France - a biography of Madame De Montespan, Louis XIV's official mistress - is published by Little

Lisa Hilton's Athénaïs, The Real Queen of France - a biography of Madame De Montespan, Louis XIV's official mistress - is published by Little, Brown at £17.99.
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1. Nana by Emile Zola
The courtesan's courtesan, and possibly the funniest book he ever wrote.

2. The Claudine Novels by Colette
So much naughtier than Gigi, Claudine is a deliciously vicious lesbian schoolgirl with an unnerving preference for the older man.

3. Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
No list would be complete without the libertine's bible, and John Malkovich's Valmont in the film version is the sexiest performance of his career.

4. La Vie Sexuelle de Catherine M by Catherine Millet
Believe it or not, Catherine Millet's memoirs of a veteran orgiast are elegantly reflective.

5. Sodom and Gomorrah by Marcel Proust
Enough said.

6. 37°2 le Matin by Philippe Djian
The book on which Betty Blue was based, and a racy read even without Béatrice Dalle.

7. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Obvious but necessary.

8. Atomised by Michel Houellebecq
Grim rather than joyful, but the most sophisticated take on postmodern sexuality.

9. The Butcher by Alina Reyes
No sausage gags, but scrumptiously erotic.

10. Arthurian Romances by Chrétien de Troyes
Unlikely, but worth it for the scene with Lancelot and the comb.

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