The Cat by Collete

Feline magic is pared with tense marital complexity in a unique and engaging novella.

I apologise now for my recent Colette overload but you see ever since discovering Gigi I have been infatuated and desperate for more fixes of this fantastic writer.

Luckily my copy of Gigi also came with the short story The Cat.

The Cat is quite unlike Gigi in many ways and for that reason I did at first struggle to get into the story. There is a far more somber tone in this book. The Cat is a story about a love triangle between a recently married couple and the young grooms cat.

We first meet the couple, Alain and Camille a week before their marriage. While the young bride seems excitable and optimistic, Alain, whose perspective the story is told through, is more apprehensive and hesitant.

In fact to say Alain is hesitant may be an understatement as he battles with a mixture of lust and repulsion for his soon to be bride. Alain understands he must marry and so tries to encourage his own senses to be more inclined to Camille but it is with rather amusing irony that Colette portrays his rising anxiety.

Colette explores and portrays the range of disturbing and terrifying emotions that any soon to be married couple can experience and it is this fear that lends a darker, more heavy tone. The light relief for me was in the form of Saha, Alain’s beloved cat.

Now I’m a huge lover of cats, but many people may feel the complete opposite and I’m not sure how people disinclined towards cats will find this book. You see Alain is quite literally enthralled with Saha. The two have a beautiful bond of unspoken and unlimited affection for one another. They communicate through gestures and actions and unbridled commitment.

Camille, desperate to be an attractive and desirable bride is naturally perturbed by what seems to be a un-healthy obsession with Saha. How can she compete with a cat that he so clearly adores? Alain’s feelings only worsen after marriage and it is as though he can’t bear the reality of marriage and the fact that he will lose so much control over his personal life and sense of self.

Saha seems to be his one connection to his old self and a part of the man he was before marriage. When Alain realizes that he cannot be parted from his adored Saha he moves her into the marital home and it is with humour and wit that Colette describes a scenario that feels more like a three person marriage than anything else.

I won’t spoil the ending but needless to say Camille desperately struggles with Alain’s infatuation of Saha. I’m not sure whose side Collete is writing from but it seemed to be me that she was more sympathetically inclined towards Alain and Saha.

What worked wonderfully for me were the descriptions of Saha, Colette understands the movements and characteristics of our feline friends very well and this comes across with winning results in the book. Like all cats they have their own individual personalities and Saha is no exception, she refuses to be cast aside by marriage and has all the haughty huffs and sulks of a jealous lover.

This combined with Alain’s hesitations and doubts made for a read that was acutely in tune with our basic human emotions but that was also elevated with a sense of individuality and uniqueness thanks to the addition of Saha.

The book also got me thinking about other animals in books and how writers symbolically use them in books . Murakhami often features cats within his work and Yan Martel famously used a whole array of animals in The Life Of Pi in order to portray family life.

What books have you read that heavily featured animals and enhanced a story? Have you read The Cat, if so did you enjoy it?

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Gigi by Colette

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

The wonderful Colette

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.

10/10

I’m Back in the Land of Blogging

After a wonderful recent break in the lovely Alicante and even lovelier Barcelona I’m pleased to be back in the world of blogging. After 10 ten days of very limited internet access I’m so pleased to finally catch up with my blog and read all of the great comments that have being left.

Thanks everyone for your comments on my recent post challenge Day Zero. I’ll get back to you all very soon but from what I’ve seen I’m spoilt for choice with a brilliant selection of recommended books.

I also can’t wait to catch up with everyone elses blogs and see what you have been reading or doing so far this month.

In terms of reading I’ve had a lovely start to September, starting with the brilliant Fear The Worst by Linwood Barclay and then moving onto the touching and unforgettable The Girls by Lori Lansen. I’m now enjoying some French Literature in the form of Gigi and The Cat by Collette and then…well who knows.

What have you all being reading so far this month, any great reads?

Reviews of all of the above books will be popping up very soon, I can’t wait to share with you all my thoughts. I forgot how enjoyable it was to share my reading experiences with all of you lovely fellow book lovers.

Thanks again for the comments and for being patient in what has been a very quite week at I Hug My Books…Now to getting caught up.