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Cheri and the Last of Cheri Paperback – October 10, 2001
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“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 to grandeur.” ―The Times
“Chéri is her masterpiece.” ―Michael Straight, The New Republic
“Dramatic and moving . . . [Chéri] endears itself to the reader partly because of its subject, but more because of the manner of its telling.” ―The New York Times
Original Language: French
Top Customer Reviews
In 19th-century Paris, formidable courtesan Lea, a once-breathtaking and sought-after beauty, is still beautiful in middle age, albeit a bit wiser and more wistful. A friend, Mmm. Peloux, herself an aging courtesan, sends Lea her only son Fred (affectionately known as Cheri) to be groomed in the ways of the world.
Cheri, a selfish, self-centered young man in his 20s, is almost excessively gorgeous. And Lea, a woman who is well beyond the infatuation stage and certainly well aware of all of his many frailties, is simply besotted with him. Under her care, Cheri is spoiled, pampered, gifted with expensive presents, and indulged in every possible way, from sexual to culinary delights. In his own pompously careless way, Cheri loves Lea as well, calling her "noun-noun," and partaking of her generosity, in bed and out, like a child. And so goes the relationship--Lea, looking over her shoulder at approaching age and the subsequent loss of her looks; and Cheri, taking everything she has to offer with complete abandon. Until his mother declares him groomed quite enough--and arranges a suitable marriage for him with a beautiful young woman.
So ends Book I, "Cheri." "The Last of Cheri" is quite a different matter, as chilling in its way as "Cheri" is sensual. The mood of the book is a type of frantic fear. Lea, ever the no-nonsense realist (in her line of work, she has to be) knows from her mirror that her time as a beauty is gone. Without Cheri, the spectre of aging begins to haunt her in a very real way, and with a kind of real terror, she contemplates her lonely and manless future.Read more ›
At twenty-five, after living with Lea for several years, Cheri decides to marry a rich, younger girl named Edmee, and Lea understands that the time has come to let him go. Their separation is not as easy as that, however; the bottom line is that he truly loves Lea, more so than he does Edmee. With Lea he has developed a special relationship that somewhat perversely combines aspects of mother-son, boyfriend-girlfriend, and teacher-pupil. His greatest chagrin is the realization that he was even naive enough to assume that he was Lea's first and only lover, never conjecturing the sources of her income.
Colette's apparent purpose in these novels is to display a dramatic transformation of character. At nineteen, Cheri is a joyful and frivolous youth; at thirty, a discontented and disillusioned man suffering from an idle lifestyle and a loveless marriage. He is unable to relate to his wife Edmee, who does charity work for a hospital and hobnobs with various public figures -- selfless gestures that are alien to his personality.Read more ›
On the one hand it is almost satisfying to watch this shallow, callous young man's fall. He is the kind of person who, in the first book anyway, one would like to see get his. Yet one can not fail to sympathize, even empathize, with Cheri. We are not so different, we ordinary and haughty folk. We all feed on the same sustenance. Trying to live off memories, trying to revive the past and failing, these are things we humans do from time to time. For some, it consumes us.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sorry to say, but I couldn't read it after the 1st chapter.Published 5 months ago by margot walbert
Hmmm, I don't know that these multiple choice questions fit every work of fiction, but I did my best. Read morePublished 7 months ago by IrisRose
After I saw the movie, I wanted to read the book, and even though the movie was visually beautiful, the book draws the characters more carefully and fully. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Judy Jewels
Bottom Line first
Colette's Cheri and the Last of Cheri delve into a world of people who exist on their surface qualities and measure life in terms of what wealth can buy. Read more
The two short novels in this volume, Cheri and The Last of Cheri, were written in 1920 and 1926, respectively. Read morePublished on April 7, 2014 by Steven Davis
The two short volumes included in here tell the story of an aging courtesan and her frivolous young lover, for whom the first World War changes everything. Read morePublished on January 25, 2014 by something wild