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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 8 (next | show all)
What is it with me and anthologies all of the sudden? At least this is only two books. After the Philip K. Dick anthology I was struggling with feelings of degradation and oppression. I needed something that was the opposite of dystopian American sci-fi, and what better could I find on my shelves than classical French literature by a female author? Plus, it is on my TBR pile challenge list, so extra points!

I must admit my interest was piqued by watching previews for the movie version of Cheri (which I have not yet seen, but want to!) And that preview meant that I could hardly imagine any face but Michelle Pfeifer's for Lea, but what a perfect face to have in mind!

Alright, I really had all of these thoughts that I wanted to assemble about how many wildly glamorous or cutthroat books were written about courtesans before this book wrote about the lives of aging courtesans, and how they might fight to hold onto their power, or not, and how growing up amongst women who had experienced the world in that way would affect a young man. But after sitting with my journal, staring off into space for ages without those thoughts ever coming together, I finally decided to abandon them and move on.

Both books, Cheri and The Last of Cheri were beautifully written and thoroughly entrancing. After reading the first book entirely from the point of view of Lea, it was fascinating in the second to get into Cheri's head. Though I do still wish I could have ever understood what Cheri's wife was thinking.

All in all, a lovely summer read. ( )
  greeniezona | Sep 20, 2014 |
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. ( )
  | Feb 24, 2012 | edit |
Only partially read it ... set in France ... it was alright.
  ValNewHope | Aug 21, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Coletteprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Arborio Mella, GiuliaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bassan Levi, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Senhouse, RogerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thurman, JudithIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Canonical title
Original title
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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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.
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


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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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