Knowing little about the French writer, Colette, I Googled her after seeing Cheri, a compelling movie adapted from one of her many books. Colette was definitely FOF, but the first F stood more for Flamboyant or Fantastic. Born in 1873, she had three marriages, her first to a bisexual 15 years her senior, and an affair with her stepson (Cheri, starring Michelle Pfeiffer. is about a six-year affair between an aging courtesan and her friend’s young and pampered son).
Colette also flaunted her lesbian relationships, including one with the renowned actress, Josephine Baker. She performed in the music halls of Paris in her thirties, wrote poetry and painted. Her most famous novel, Gigi, was made into a movie musical with Leslie Caron and Maurice Chevalier in 1958. I adored that movie. I wanted to be Gigi. I was eleven.
During the German occupation of France in World War II, Collette aided her Jewish friends, and hid her husband in the attic all through the war. She also was president of the Academie Goncourt, the French literary society, and the first woman to be admitted, in 1945.
Colette’s full name was Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, but the single name Colette seems completely suitable. She was quite a woman. Her third husband published a book about his wife, Close to Colette: An Intimate Portrait of a Woman of Genius. It was translated into English in 1957. I’m going to look for it.
4 Responses to “Ma cherie Colette”
She was fascinating. The Judith Thurman bio of her is wonderful and unflinchingly honest.
I never wanted to be Gigi – I wanted to be Claudine.
Please correct the typo – her name was Sidonie.
Thank you g for asking me to correct the mistake. Just did.
Agree Jean. Totally agree.
Fabulous over Fifty, to me, means also the okay-ness of deciding not to have affairs. To be judged perfectly sane and human in deciding to be celibate–with no censure. Why not?