She is, considering the times, a wild child. It is the turn of a new century, and she is well ahead of her contemporaries and far removed from the Flappers of the s, who were trying to be emancipated women. The headmistress of her school, Sergent, finds her nearly intolerable, not only because of her attitude, which is certainly rebellious, but also because she is jealous of her relationship with one Aimee Lanthenay. Our intimacy is progressing very fast.
Lovely eyes that only ask to smile! They make the boys turn and look after when she goes out. It is, after all, in her best interest. What can Claudine offer, except passionate embraces, but the headmistress can litter her future with little presents and not to mention provide her a helping hand with her career.
She gives her hope and then dashes it unmercifully. Colette Claudine is also navigating the treacherous waters of the attentions of older males.
Whenever the District Superintendent Dutertre visits, he is very attentive to her. She is just beginning to understand her appeal to men. After all, she may only be 15, but she has the curves of a grown woman.
She is ripe for the plucking, as far as Dutertre is concerned. Claudine, in her pride, might have brushed it all off as just part of being an attractive woman, but this scene is a great example of the underlining, cynical theme of the novel that lends some understanding into why an attractive, intelligent girl, like Claudine, might rebel against a corrupt adult system.
At the same time, Claudine is not above using her beauty to get herself out of some tight spots. Like when she is late for her final exams before a panel of men. I was having a siesta. The general effect was not unattractive At least, I could only presume so, for their Lordships considered me at length and Rouibaud asked me point-blank: I was expecting that. In true Claudine fashion, she uses her advantages to titillate the men, but at the same time, she lets them know what a bunch of lecherous idiots they are.
Her father has over volumes of books in his library, of which Claudine takes full advantage, but he is an indifferent parent, more interested in studying slugs than paying attention to his daughter.
She comes home and talks to him about the grand part she is playing in a school festival: Am I going to have to show myself over there? You remain in the shadow! She is the smartest girl in the school, and that gives her a wider margin of error with her numerous offenses because the headmistress knows she needs her final exam scores to increase the prestige of the school. Claudine pushs back against those who are impressing morality upon her without living moral lives themselves.
Her father is as nice as they come, but knows absolutely nothing about parenting a young girl. Basically, she is raising herself. She is trying to come to terms with her attraction to women and the attention she is receiving from men. She acts like she despises all of her classmates, but in truth she knows she will miss them. Claudine is prideful, willful, and probably doomed once the outside world starts to exert pressure to conform her. This novel was published in , but feels contemporary in style and theme.
It is a strangely compelling and breezy read. Colette and the lecherous Willie. It was his idea for his wife to mine her experiences at school and mix in some titillating scenes of young girls with burgeoning sexual interests. Those scenes are mild by the standards of today, but at the same time, I could see how they would have been scandalous in the day. Henry was quite the libertine with a steady stream of steamy affairs, and he encouraged Colette to engage in lesbian dalliances, certainly more for his stimulation my impression than for any concern for her own pleasure.
I plan to read a biography of Colette next, which should provide more insight into her novels as I steadily work my way through her body of work. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http: