Colette was at the centre of Parisian social and cultural life, and
she broke all the rules. She had a very public liaison with a
countess which brought about the end of her first marriage, she
fought to protect her third husband, a Jew, from the Nazis during
the War, she discovered St Tropez, seduced her stepson and was
greatly esteemed by Proust and Gide by the end of her life. This
new biography captures brilliantly the exoticism of Colette and her
world. (Kirkus UK)
’A ferociously intelligent, masterful life of Colette, which stays supremely in control of her wild, bold, brilliant and often obnoxious subject.’ Hermoine Lee, Books of the Year, Observer
Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette was this century’s first modern woman. She arrived in Paris around 1900 as the provincial child bride of a notorious rake and brilliant literary impresario, Willy, who signed her first novels, the Claudine series, as his own. They became the greatest French bestsellers of all time. When this tumultuous marriage ended, Colette went off with a high-born woman lover, the virile Marquise de Belboeuf, and embarked on a flamboyant stage career. She bared her breast to raucous applause in the French music-hall and became a celebrity of the lesbian demi-monde. Until her death in 1954, she continued to rewrite the rules for loving, working, and ageing.
Judith Thurman is the author of Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller, which won the National Book Award for Biography in 1983. This book is no less an achievement, showing that even at the beginning of this century, Colette’s life and work still have the power to open eyes and challenge the norms.
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