First things first: I like Colette. Not only her books but that what I know (or think to know) about her as a person - or is it personality? (When it comes to Colette I guess the second suits her best..)
How could I not like her when she adored cats? well.. yes.. not really a reason - but a sidenote.. we all tend to like people for the silliest reasons - don't we? I sure do.. She also loved dogs - I am always liking people who are fond of animals..
|~ Colette & a little friend of hers.. ~|
Then she was one of the most dazzling personalities of La Belle Époque (- and also of the years afterwards, of course..)
|~ Colette in 1907 - a ravishing woman causing scandals.. ~|
Though married three times (one of her husbands was Jewish and she helped him while Nazi occupation in France - though she was bed-ridden because of arthrosis) she also had several (bisexual) affairs - and caused a scandal when she performed on stage of Moulin Rouge in Paris and kissed another woman with whom she had for many years a relationship. It was Mathiled "Missy" de Morny whose father was a halfbrother of Napoleon III. .. Just by the way: When she died in 1954 at age 81 she was the first female to ever receive a state funeral in France. (Though I don't think it mattered to her at that moment..)
|~ Colette & "Missy" de Morny on stage ~|
So.. yes.. Indeed material for a heroine in my book.. Speaking of books - here we go: I am reviewing DUO (1934) and LE TOUTOUNIER (1939) together because both have Alice as the leading lady - and I think these very narrow novels are widely selled in two volume editions..
In a nut-shell:
Alice and her husband are spending some time on his cottage way out on the countryside - but they are having some troubles. It is not only with their stubborn servants and with the show they are working on - no: Michel found out that Alice had a (short-lived) affair - and he isn't feeling too well anyway..
LE TOUTOUNIER (1939):
~ before going on to read: please be aware that this contains a spoiler because it is the follow-up to DUO.. ~
After Michel's death Alice returns to her sisters who are living a quite moderate life in Paris. While one of the sisters - Bizoute - now has found a husband and lives together with him, virginal Colombe and perky Hermine are still living in the same old flat the girls grew up in. Both are in love with married men - and Alice returns to a live full of meagre meals and wild turbulences..
|~ this is how my 1962 German edition looks - don't you just love this, too? ~|
For those who never read anything by Colette before: Please be aware that her style is something one has to get used to. She tends to throw her readers into her stories - and some of the information you have to find out on your own - she will give you hints but for sure not pamper you too much.. And she is for sure no romantic in a classic way - this is certainly no Jane Austen novel (of course I adore those, too..). No, Colette's characters are very "modern" when it comes to sex - they will have their affairs without being forced to marry afterwards and besides that at some points they are quite the cynics.. That is something which I enjoy - but not at all times to be true..
Anyway: These two novels a real fast reads. I especially loved LE TOUTOUNIER - maybe because of the involved persons and the setting: I am just more into the live of three not too young sisters who are living a bohemian life in Paris then in a married couple having some quarrels.. I am sure that is because I am not and never was married - and when it comes to long lasting relationships... Well.. I just know more about living a bohemian single girl's life..
How could I not identify with those girls when they're living mostly of coffee, cigarettes and wine? Well.. yes.. I skipped cigarettes three years ago when I started to live with my heart's delight: Lucy and Mina.. but still: before that my average breakfast was a big cup of coffee, half a grapefruit - and a cigarette.. Healthy, hm?
Oh and before I close this post I have to throw that in: I simply love those names like Bizoute and Colombe..
Thank you very much for reading!
(living much more healthier now)