2007: 82. Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette

“In March of 1900, a forty-one-year-old Parisian man of letters published a novel that purported to be the journal of a sixteen-year-old provincial schoolgirl named Claudine.”

Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette, Judith Thurman

This is a very interesting (and very long) biography of Colette, one of the leading lights of French literature.  I have actually never read any Colette - the work I’m most familiar with is Gigi, which is a sort of morally gross story (if a sort of charming musical).  Her writing was all about the underbelly of society and the sexual mores of fin de siecle France.  Courtesans, mistresses, young lovers, lesbians, old men, the whole nine yards.  Colette lived much like that herself - first with her first husband, Willy, who cheated on her, dominated her and took credit for her writing, then with a string of lesbian lovers, younger men, a second husband who also cheated on her, and, finally, her last husband who stayed with her to the end.  She had quite a life and lived long enough to be a survivor and a legend.  Her writing is what makes her reputation live on, but her life was pretty damn interesting - interesting enough to make me read a whole book about an author whose writing I’ve never read a word of.  But, as interesting as her life was (and wow, it was), I can’t say that I have any intention of reading of her works.  So, as fun as it was to read her story, I can’t help but feel that Thurman sort of failed as a biographer.  She made me think that Colette was salacious, but not an interesting author.


Recommended for:  People who like reading about scandalous lives of people, especially in times ago


Date/Place Completed: 6/11/07; D.C.

Categories:  Non-Fiction 

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017