Friday, May 25, 2012


Colette, translated by Roger Senhouse

Here it is, probably Colette's most famous work, and it's still delightful.  Set in 1899, shortly before the first Claudine book came out, it has automobiles and ortolans, scandal and innocence.  As so often with Colette, none of the characters are exactly sympathetic, but it's fun to see them play off of each other.  Even Gigi's weary actress mother, who's less involved in her life than the grandmother and great-aunt, has her moments.  The joke of the story is that 15-year-old Gigi is being groomed to be a courtesan, but when a family friend offers for her, she loves him too much to accept, so he has to make a matrimonial offer instead.  Tasteless, sure, but in a sophisticated way.  I have almost no memory of the musical-- other than "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" of course-- but I'm amused that the 1951 stageplay was by that old expert of humorous gold-digging, Anita Loos.

Pity that Colette's humor is less in evidence for her other stories from '44....

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