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The Vagabond Paperback – September 5, 2001
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"The Vagabond, one of the first and best feminist novels ever written, is that rare thing: a great book which is also inspiring." --Erica Jong
Original Language: French
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Top Customer Reviews
In her early to mid 30s, Colette grew weary of Willy, and turned her back on him to embark on a career as a dance hall performer. This is the setting for THE VAGABOND, Colette's first post-Willy novel, and the first to bear her own name.
The main character, Renee Nere, has been touring for 3 years, and although she's sometimes lonely, is enjoying her freedom and self-sufficiency. She's also suffering from what we'd refer to nowadays as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Her marriage to her philandering and abusive husband was so wretched, that when she meets another man who loves her, the slighest familiar gesture or word will trigger memories that incite revulsion.
THE VAGABOND is a gem of a novel that beautifully shows off Colette's gift for prose as well as her wonderful descriptions of life backstage as part of a touring group. If that isn't enough, she is also very gifted at revealing the psychological insights of her character. The introduction by Judith Thurman is well-done, and both the introduction and the novel left me wanting more Colette.
The opening of the story in the dressrooms of the music hall smell like rancid grease paint, dust, sweat of performers. There's only few people you can relate to, since everyone comes & goes in the music hall, so why make friends?
But the music hall is good place for Renee Nere, a pantomime, who performs half nude in see-through silks, and gets slammed to ground on purpose by her mentor, Brague, who treats her like an amateur: but this a joke between them. Renee is no amateur. At 33 she can out perform anyone
"You get use to not eating, a toothache . . . . but you cannot get used to jealousy." is the way Renee describes her high profile marriage to Adolphe Taillandy, and his many, many mistresses. A marriage ends in divorce when Renee can no longer take it. Divorce from a wealthy man was unheard of in 1910.
Renee, the vagabond, loves the music hall in her own way, even though she hates the dust, the animal abuse, the low-class crowd. But she will never have to deal with Adolphe Taillandy again. She also endures the touring which means terrible food, discomfort, bad hours. It mends her broken life and heart, or gives her a chance to avoid it.
A rich suitor arrives and Renee doesn't want to get involved. She becomes emotionally involve, but then goes on tour, and tries to forget him. She's a vagabond now and she doesn't want to get tied up.
Colette was a master of the word written by a woman, from a woman's heart. She knew how to move from one scene to another and astonish the reader. The most amazing fact of this novel was that it was written in the dressing rooms of the music hall, and on tour too.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am somewhat disappointed by Colette's novel, "The Vagabond." It has been sitting on my shelf in my bedroom for a couple of years so I took the book on a recent trip. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Sylviastel
Long before Cher and Madonna thought they invented “first names only,” there was Colette (1873-1954). Read morePublished 4 months ago by James W. Fonseca
Full disclosure. Colette is one of my favorite authors. I tend to read and re-read all her books. That's why I was thrilled to see Vagabond on Kindle and I immediately ordered it. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Joan C. Curtis
I've liked Colette for a long time, and I am rereading The Vagabond and enjoying it more than ever.
Stanley Applebaum points out in the excellent introduction that... Read more
This was the first book I ever read by the inimitable Colette. She is regarded by many French people as one of the truly great writers and this book shows why. Read morePublished on March 15, 2013 by M. Smith
Tedious narration of an actress' life and thoughts.
I'm always curious about great writers of the past, and I wanted to try some of Colette's works. Read more
somewhat slow moving & sad. the story was o.k. the writing was good. the direction the story went was pretty predictable.Published on December 20, 2012 by Debra Tufford
I wish I'd read this when I was 17 -- for the Gallic wit, for the "milk and macaroni" existence of music hall performers, and for the skepticism about young men in love. Read morePublished on March 28, 2012 by Karl Stull