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Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Paperback – October 31, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The fairly small print didn't help. Keeping track of the enormous gallery of people in her life took away a great deal of the reading pleasure, and Thurman's sentences are very long and not always "clear headed". Yes, Colette had quite a life, but somehow her life comes across as more interesting than her persona.
My favorite parts are those that tell of her complicated relationships with her parents. I learn more about myself from reading such analysis than I would from three years of therapy!
An A+: When Thurman writes about the "fin de siecle" in France she in fact shows herself to be a far better historian than biographer. (In the Dinesen bio she was both) And France around 1900 is remarkably like our world of today, which makes it very topical.
I don't know how much of the Colette bio is Thurman and how much is other biographers and that too is a big minus. Colette has been covered extensively by many writers, and I wish that Thurman had spent 1990-1998 reading, researching and writing about someone who has not been "bio'd" so often or, even better, not at all. There were a few bios on Dinesen before Thurman's, but she was almost "virgin snow" compared to Colette.Read more ›
"Like all those who never use their strength to the limit," Colette once wrote, "I am hostile to those who let life burn them out." Fiercely disciplined, hugely productive, the author of "Gigi" and "Chéri" lived 80 years and produced nearly 80 volumes of fiction, memoirs, journalism and drama.
She married three times, had male and female lovers and for a time supported herself as a mime, dancing semi-nude in music halls throughout France. When she died in 1954, she received the first state funeral the French Republic had ever given a woman.
Colette is a strikingly elusive writer. Packing her books with delicious clothes and furniture and ravishingly attractive people, she delivers pleasures that most "women's writers" only promise. But her prose is rarely straightforward or transparent, and her characters -- captured at the height of their beauty or in beauty's humiliating decline -- maintain a mocking, self-protective reticence.
Colette, Thurman says, was "remarkable among modern writers -- perhaps the great women in particular -- for a sense of self not vested in her mind." Maybe female writers have simply had to think harder in order to carve out space within ideologies that would otherwise have shut them out.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There are enough stars to rate this.book. It simply doesn't get better than this. Not only is the
research extraordinary and the writing brilliant on its own, but the depth... Read more
haven't read yet...but collect books on Collette..this one is beautiful...Published 7 months ago by Barbra Kauffman
Bottom Line First
Secrets of the Flesh; A life of Colette is over long. The scholarship is excellent. Read more
If many Americans know Colette at all, we know her through Gigi, the 1954 movie starring Leslie Caron and Louis Jourdan, and featuring the now problematic little song, Thank Heaven... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Barbara Stoner
This may be one of the best written biographies I have read, as far as the style in which it was written. Read morePublished on January 15, 2014 by Shannon L. Youngs
Judith Thurman is a good writer and this is an extensive, if not exhaustive, bio of Colette. Colette was quite a complicated woman, and Thurman takes the extensive material... Read morePublished on January 4, 2014 by Mary O. Stimmel
A member of my book group suggested that the group read Secrets of the Flesh. WHY? I don't know. It is the worst book that I've tried to read in years, and I'm an avid reader. Read morePublished on April 2, 2013 by PWren
What a boring, self-absorbed celebrity.
I enjoy her reputation, and all that I've learned about Colette over the years, but I can't stand her writing.