Delicious, charming and sophisticated…A fantastic little novella full of powerful persuasion.
Any novel that has the power to transport me to a different time, place or era is a novel guaranteed to win my heart and Gigi by Colette is certainly no exception. Set in Paris in 1899 Gigi is the story of a young girl on the cusp of womanhood charged with the responsibility of becoming a fine Parisian courtesan.
Mainly ignored by her apathetic mother, Gigi is raised by the eccentric aunt and grandmother, two women equal in their obsession of the politics of coupling. In their eyes society is a mind field of potholes and trap doors that Gigi must be skilfully guided through.
She must learn the correct way of eating lobster, the appropriate way to address a man in order to effect the perfect balance of indifference and seduction. She must learn the correct jewels to wear, the times to wear them and how and when to smoke a cigar.
But Gigi is luminous in her innocence and causes no end of grief and despair to the ladies in her life who cannot fathom her poor grasp of society and it’s intricate rules. While this novella may come in on the light side being a mere fifty or so pages it certainly does not lack in it’s
abundance of humour or wit. Indeed Gigi’s aunt and grandmother are a never-ending source of amusement in their desperate attempts to install in their protégé a sense of the Persian courtesan they desperately desire her to be.
Colette encapsulates perfectly Gigi’s innocence and reluctance to cross a threshold into a world see she’s as being ripe with scandal, gossip, and heartache. When a wealthy and sought after society man makes her the object of his affections Gigi is at first oblivious to his desires. Her inability to note his wanting makes her all the more incredibly dear and charming; a character impossible not to adore.
I wont spoil the ending for anyone who hasn’t read this fantastic little novella but if you’re looking for a story to while away an afternoon with then this book is perfect. Prepare to be dazzled by the powerfully evocative world that Colette creates which is painted with vivid strokes of brilliance.
Have you read anything else by Colette? Or indeed have you read Gigi? I will be reading The Cat next which was also included in this book. This is my first encounter with Colette but I don’t think it will be the last.