Friday, December 13, 2013

Book Beginnings on Friday: Cheri by Colette

Cover portrait by Antonio de la Gandara

I've just started reading Colette's classic novel, Chéri.  The portrait of a fading love affair between a middle-aged woman and her much younger lover caused a huge stir when it was first published in 1920, and is still controversial today. This is the opening paragraph, with the eponymous Chéri speaking:
'Give it me, Léa, give me your pearl necklace! Do you hear me, Léa? Give me your pearls!'

Initial thoughts:
The first sentence was intriguing and drew me in.  What comes after that is more problematic.

I've wanted to read this one since I was in my teens - back in the '60s it was still considered pretty steamy stuff.  I imagine that's not the case today, although I have to confess I'm finding it a teensy bit  disturbing.  It's not just that Chéri himself (yes, Chéri is the male half of the duo) is so much younger than his lover/mentor, Léa - it's also that he's portrayed as more than a little...well, effeminate I guess is the best word.  Which makes the whole situation very...OK, disturbing is all I can come up with.

I've only read about twenty pages, so I don't have a very firm opinion yet.  For now, though, I'm sticking with it.

Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays. As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.

1 comment:

  1. I think that what was steamy then may be very tame now. Let us know if that is how it turns out.


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