Series: Cheri #1
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on October 10, 2001
Exquisitely handsome, spoilt and sardonic, Chéri is the only son of a wealthy courtesan, a contemporary of Léa, the magnificent and talented woman who for six years has devoted herself to his amorous education.
When a rich marriage is arranged for Chéri, Léa reluctantly decides their relationship must end. Chéri, despite his apparent detachment, is haunted by memories of Léa; alienated from his wife, his family and his surroundings, he retreats into a fantasy world made up of dreams and the past, a world from which there is only one route of escape.
This book is all about coping mechanisms. Cheri becomes distant from his wife claiming everything his wife says and does is wrong because it is not Lea. Lea just picks up and goes away on vacation, but even the change of scenery still leaves her feeling morose. This book was heartbreaking. It is obvious, by Colette’s words how greatly they care for each other; but due to society’s prejudice to people like her and the disturbing (at the time) age gap, thus any furthering of the relationship would seem impossible.
In the opening scene in the bedroom, has Cheri playing with a strand of pearls with Lea teasing him, setting a playful happy setting. The conclusion, while still in her boudoir has a heavy air to it as the lovers comfort each other before they last depart. Despite being a mere 140 pages long Colette invokes such strong emotions by going down memory lane, showing their time of happiness only to plummet to their current despair, I had emotional whiplash. Cheri is a beautifully written story of two people whose eyes are shaped like soles.