Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Cheri and The Last of Cheri - Colette

Title: Chéri and The Last of Chéri

Author: Colette
Country: France
Year: 1920 and 1926
Pages: 247
Rating: 5 out of 5

First sentence (Chéri): Give it me, Léa, give me your pearl necklace! 
First sentence (The Last of Chéri): Chéri closed the iron gate of the little garden behind him and sniffed the night air: 'Ah! it's nice out here!'

For a more detailed analysis of the first novella, check out my Sunday Salon post.

The Last of Chéri picks up five years after the end of Chéri. In between, World War I has happened. Chéri seems to be one of the fortunate; he returns home not only alive, but unscathed (at least physically). His wife is fulfilling her patriotic duty working as a nurse at a Parisian verteran's hospital, and financially, he could want for nothing. Yet, while Chéri was sensual, The Last of Chéri is a chilling masterpiece. Unlike the first, this time around we only see the world from Chéri's narcissistic perspective. After visiting a much-aged Léa, he delves into a semi-manic depression, spurred on by his demands on another aged courtesan to recount Léa's younger life.

In all, this has been a great pair of novels to read. I also heard that a film version will be coming out in 2009, with Michelle Pfeiffer in the role of Léa, and Kathy Bates as Madame Peloux (Chéri's mother). I have a feeling it's not going to be in French, but I'm interested to see what they do with it.

Chéri never forgot their nocturnal journey home, the sadness of the lingering crimson in the west, the smell of the grasses, the feathery moths held prisoner in the beam of the headlamps. (p.167)

She put back the receiver, showing nothing but the curve of her back. As she moved away, she inhaled and exhaled puffs of blue smoke, and vanished in the midst of her cloud like a magician whose task is accomplished. (p. 181)


Eva said...

I just read "Gigi" last night, and now I want to read lots more Colette! Great coincidence on your posts: now I'm off to see if the library has Cheri.

Eva said...

On a completely different topic, are we supposed to link our Neustadt reviews anywhere? I just got my first one up. :)

Teddy Rose said...

Really nice review! I have these on my TBR. Hm, I don't often like hollywood movies of international books. I prefer subtitles. I just think the country of origion usually does a better job. (Of course this is coming from an international film junkie). LOL!

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