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Gigi and The Cat are two short novels (60 and 100 pages respectively) by French writer Colette.  Both revolve around the theme of love, or some twisted version of it.  Gigi – which was adapted into a hugely successful musical in the 1950s – is about a young girl, who is being groomed (or trained) by her grandmother and great aunt, into becoming a courtesan.  They try to educate in the ways of the world and the ways of men, but the naive yet impetuous Gilberte (‘Gigi’) instead falls for a French playboy twice her age (I’m not making this up!).

Despite the subject matter, the book is written in a light-hearted, humorous way, and the subject is handled delicately.  The writing is both charming and eloquent, and I loved the way that so much of the action was unseen, but related through dialogue between the characters.  Gigi is likeable, her grandmother and great aunt less so.  I didn’t much care for Gaston (the film interpretation of the character, played by Louis Jourdan, is much more sympathetic), but he more or less won me over in the end.

The Cat is about a young girl named Camille, who is jealous of her new husband Alain’s love and affection for Saha, his Persian Blue cat.  Camille eventually goes to extreme lengths to rid herself of her rival for Alain’s affections – with far reaching consequences.

I didn’t like this story as much as Gigi, mainly because neither Alain nor Camille were particularly likeable characters, and I felt that two such selfish and self-absorbed people probably deserved each other.  Nonetheless, the writing is eloquent, even with occasional humour, even if the ending was almost inevitable from the outset.

These stories are the first works by Colette that I have ever read.  Based on these, I would probably be interested in seeking out a full length novel, where the characters might perhaps be slightly better developed.  (The lack of characterisation was a little niggle I had with the book, but I find this to be fairly common in short stories or novellas.)  Overall, I would recommend Colette as a writer.

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Click here for my review of the 1958 movie adaptation.

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