Colette's "Paradise" not my idea of heaven

Posted by Bel. The time is 2:11pm here in Wellington, NZ.

"Earthly Paradise" is a memoir of sorts, pulled together from lifelong writings by Colette. One of France's heralded novelists and literary icons, she was a contemporary of Marcel Proust and is often spoken of in the same regard.

An unconventional autobiography, this was very easy to read, because each sections was at the most a few pages long. The episodic nature of the book suited well her highly evocative style of writing, meaning you were drawn into a location, a time period, the reminiscence upon a person - without it being drawn out.

I particularly enjoyed the first third of the book, which brought to life her idyllic childhood and brought to mind so many strange details of my own. Her tales of occupied Paris in WWII were also incredible, telling how chic French women redecorated their complusory gas-mask cases to match their outfits - or carried them empty to bring delicious treats back from the markets.

A lot of the time, however, I found myself skimming over sections - as it was easy to pick up again a few pages later - and so much of the book had seemingly dated. Many of the people that were featured were unknown to me (my own fault, I know) and as I have little knowledge of her other works, there wasn't the same thrill of reading along with her career trajectory.

Much of the book felt like a peek back in time, and was an interesting perspective on standards at the time - but perhaps her writerly tone gave me too much of a feeling of passivity time and again.

The photo of the cover of the enormous beast of a hard-cover I had from the library had her posing with her cat, but I couldn't find that online, so have gone with a supplementary image of her wearing this awesome suit.

2 thoughts on “Colette's "Paradise" not my idea of heaven”

  1. I'm going to completely undermine her as a multi-faceted human being by commenting: shizz, I love the combo of her hair and the suit in that second pic.

    (Hey, wait, it's a comment relating to a subversion of gender expectations/ imagery, so I guess is not undermining her.)