Thursday, January 23, 2014

Gigi and the Cat, by Colette

Staff Review by Chris Saliba


These two delightful novellas have plenty of sumptuous detail and engaging dialogue, making Colette's writing like an exquisite miniature painting.

Colette is one of those author's whose name I've heard seemingly a million times, but have never read. Recently I was blessed to have been able to read her two lovely novellas, Gigi and The Cat. Whenever I've seen the cover of this slim volume, I've presumed it to be one short novel. Actually, it's two stories. Gigi is about 50 pages long, while The Cat is some 100 pages.

Gigi

I loved both these stories, but it was perhaps Gigi that won out as favourite. The story is about a young 15-year-old girl, Gilberte, or Gigi for short. She is primarily looked after by her grandmother and great aunt, who are grooming her to be a courtesan. The charm, for me anyway, of the story was the humour and rather witty dialogue. And then of course there are the beautiful descriptions. Colette concentrates on lots of fine detail, giving her writing a painterly quality.

The Cat

A young married couple, Alain and Camille, are experiencing some tension in their relationship. The uneasiness is mainly manifesting on Alain's side. He longs for the comforts and sweetness of his childhood, here embodied in his cat, Saha. Camille isn't particularly sympathetic to Alain's plight. She's young and energetic and somewhat coarse. The tension builds up in their relationship until Alain discovers she has betrayed him by an act of cruelty to his beloved cat, Saha,

Both of these stories were so moreish and delectable that I'll be searching out other works by Colette. Her fiction is original and personal, with its own refreshing rhythm.

Gigi and the Cat, by Collete. Published by Vintage Classics. ISBN: 9780099422754  $12.95