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Cheri and The Last of Cheri by Colette

Cheri and The Last of Cheri (1951)

by Colette

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Cheri (omnibus)

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
An almost favourite for me but alas I am donating this one to clear my bookshelves. Will likely buy a digital edition (this one is hardback). ( )
  anissaannalise | Jan 1, 2014 |
This book is really blowing my mind. Sad I never had to read it in college. An amazing book! ( )
  mjennings26 | Apr 3, 2013 |
Eponymous Cheri is an incredibly rich, pitifully spoiled and terribly handsome young man of 25 who has been smitten by a 50 year-old courtesan in the Paris of Proust just prior to World War I. She is wealthy but finds that her beauty is fading all too fast and what is a courtesan to do when that catastrophe inevitably happens? Cheri feels that he should marry a beautiful, young and respectable woman of his social class and a prospect emerges. But if he were to do so, he must abandon the love of his life in the courtesan, Lea, and she would lose one of her greatest lovers. Apart from the age difference there are other problems: she treats him like a son and he treats her like his mother but there is sex involved so it's complicated. Freud would have a field day with this situation. I found Cheri insufferable as a character and could not understand how this whore with a heart of gold could become so attached to such a hollow man. He symbolizes of course her lost youth and some have suggested even Paris itself as a city with a lifestyle and culture so driven by hedonistic pursuits. This autobiographical novel is about an aging women who laments the loss of the powers of her youth. Colette wrote this novel as an aging actress who had an affair with a handsome, young married man. But Lea strikes me as materialistic, shallow, vain, narcissistic and I could not find much charm in her either. As hookers go in literature, Lea is among the least interesting femme fatale about whom I have read. This book was painful to read and every page passed dreadfully slowly. I kept asking myself when this horrible narrative would ever end although the book itself is short and I have a high tolerance for long reads as long as the narrative is well written. It could be that the translation was simply not compelling and it's hard to know if this may be the case. Although I read French, I really don't feel to compelled in this case to compare the French and English. Decided to cut bait on Part II as Part I just didn't work for me and life is too short. I would advise you to consider steering clear of this dull and hopelessly sentimental novel. I found little here to love in the literature which, as has been said of Henry James, there's less heat than light. But in this case I found little light, as well. ( )
  WordsworthGreen | Feb 24, 2012 |
Only partially read it ... set in France ... it was alright.
  ValNewHope | Aug 21, 2011 |
The two short novels in this volume, Cheri and The Last of Cheri, were written in 1920 and 1926, respectively. The title character, "Cheri," is a disarmingly handsome young man whose real name is Frederic Peloux. He is the son and only child of an aging Paris courtesan. Knowing that he needed polishing to function in society, his mother had turned her teenage son over to her friend and fellow courtesan, Lea. Despite an age difference of thirty years, the two became lovers and, as the first novel opens, have lived together for six years.

Cheri takes place in 1913-14. Cheri's mother has arranged a marriage for him with Edmee, the teenage daughter of another of her friends. Cheri takes the inevitable separation from Lea with nonchalance, as Lea approaches it with trepidation. But it is Cheri who eventually has the most difficulty, rejecting his beautiful new bride as childish in both her appearance and intellect. When he finally attempts to give up altogether on his marriage, it is Lea who summons the strength to reject him.

The Last of Cheri is set in 1919. Cheri has survived the First World War largely unchanged, but the war has turned Edmee into a busy volunteer activist, working with a military hospital and other causes. Cheri's entire way of life, that of the lazy, self-indulgent rich, has vanished. He tries to recover it by revisiting his life with Lea, but she, too, has changed.

Cheri's character, in both novels, is utterly unlikable. He is lazy, haughty, uncaring and superficial. But his predicament, at least in the second novel, is typical of many of his generation. He has seen the world change, and he does not like what it has become. Everyone is busy, either making money or serving a cause. "They're such hard workers it's enough to make you loathe the sight of work.... Is it really wrong to be rich, and take life easy?" he complains.

The temperaments of the respective eras are clearly reflected in women's fashions and attitudes. Lea is voluptuous, languorous, courtly and aristocratic.Edmee, in contrast, is slender, active, assertive and democratic. What Cheri doesn't like about his young wife is what symbolizes the times themselves, and what he yearns for in Lea is the past he can never bring back.

Though the first novel of the pair is more celebrated, I didn't particularly appreciate it until I had read the sequel. I would recommend reading them as one continuous work. ( )
3 vote StevenTX | Jun 25, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Coletteprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Senhouse, RogerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thurman, JudithIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
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First words
"Give it to me, Lea, give me your pearl necklace!
Cheri closed the iron gate of the little garden behind him and sniffed the night air: "Ah! it's nice out here!"
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This edition contains both Cheri and its sequel, The Last of Cheri (not to be confused with Cheri). Do not add/combine with editions that exclude either one.
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Original language

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374528012, Paperback)

Two volumes of Colette's most beloved works, with a new Introduction by Judith Thurman.

Chéri, together with The Last of Chéri, is a classic story of a love affair between a very young man and a charming older woman. The amour between Fred Peloux, the beautiful gigolo known as Chéri, and the courtesan Léa de Lonval tenderly depicts the devotion that stems from desire, and is an honest account of the most human preoccupations of youth and middle age. With compassionate insight Colette paints a full-length double portrait using an impressionistic style all her own.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:13 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"Cheri, together with The Last of Cheri, is a classic story of a love affair between a very young man and a charming older woman. In describing the relationship between Fred Peloux, the beautiful gigolo known as Cheri, and the courtesan Lea de Lonval, Colette tenderly depicts the devotion that stems from desire and provides an honest account of the most human preoccupations of youth and middle age. With compassionate insight she paints a full-length double portrait, using an impressionistic style all her own. In Cheri, Colette achieved a peak in her earthy, sensuous, and utterly individual art."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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