Chéri, first published in 1920, is considered Colette's finest novel. Exquisitely handsome, spoilt and sardonic, Chéri is the only son of a wealthy courtesan, a contemporary of Léa, the magnificent and talented woman who for six years has devoted herself to his amorous education.
When a rich marriage is arranged for Chéri, Léa reluctantly decides their relationship must end. Chéri, despite his apparent detachment, is haunted by memories of Léa; alienated from his wife, his family and his surroundings, he retreats into a fantasy world made up of dreams and the past, a world from which there is only one route of escape.
In her portrait of the fated love affair between a very young man and a middle-aged woman, Colette achieved a peak in her earthy, sensuous and utterly individual art. Chéri caused considerable controversy both in its choice of setting - the fabulous demi-monde of the Parisian courtesans - and in its portrayal of Chéri.
Everything that Colette touched became human... She was a complete sensualist; but she gave herself up to her senses with such delicacy of perception, with such exquisiteness of physical pain as well as physical ecstasy, that she ennobled sensualism almost to grandeur
I devoured Chéri at a gulp. What a wonderful subject and with what intelligence, mastery and understanding of the least-admitted secrets of the flesh
A perfectionist in her every word
Her sensual prose style made her one of the great writers of twentieth-century France
Join us at VINTAGE in a year of challenging ourselves to listen, hear and respond to some of the greatest female writers history has to offer. From Margaret Atwood to Mary Wollstonecraft, revisit your favourites, discover new voices and fill your bookshelf and your year with women’s voices. They matter.