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The Vagabond

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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  1,300 ratings  ·  86 reviews
From the author of Gigicomes this tale of 33-year-old Renée Néré, recently divorced and seeking a new life as a vaudeville performer. Maxime, a wealthy playboy, tempts her from the path of independence with the comforts of love and marriage. From the physical and psychological distance of a provincial tour, Renée reflects upon the conflicting needs of security and freedom. ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 21st 2010 by Dover Publications (first published 1910)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,754)
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Jessica
'Cheri' and 'The Last of Cheri' are two of my favorite books and I thought it was about time I read more of Colette, and 'The Vagabond' didn't disappoint. It's hard to believe this was written in 1910 because the truth of what she writes is still so relevant today - a divorced woman struggling between the choice of a new love and her work, which allows her to be independent at last. Will she give up her job that enables her to provide for herself and do the things she wants, though the hours are ...more
Eric
This is probably the most beautiful piece of writing I've ever found. If there is a more honest exposition, a more sincere appraisal, of the narrative we live when not consumed by mundane distractions, I look forward to your recommendations.

Colette's talent lies in enumerating the sensory details we barely notice and explicating the relationship between the tactile and the emotional. In an existential sense, this is a novel about nature and desire, surrender and choice. But forget the philosoph
...more
Laura
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dave
A glittering stream of diamonds came from Colette's pen to create this novel. It would have been sheer pleasure to read this just for the language alone, and I regret not reviving my French skills to read it in the original language. I had both admiration and affection for the protagonist, Renee, an "older" divorcee, making her way alone in the world as a cabaret performer, who meets a wealthy, respectable admirer who becomes her suitor. Renee cannot be too different from the author herself, int ...more
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
A classic feminist translation from French that’s a “romantic” story told by a heartbroken performer named Renee, who must choose between freedom and love during Victorian times.

About: Published in 1910 this is a short book that is supposedly a semi-autobiography from the interesting bohemian author – Colette. The story is told in first person by Renee Nere, the main character who has divorced her wealthy, philandering, artist husband after eight years of emotional torture. Damaged, much wiser,
...more
Jolifanta
I really like Collette's writing in this book. It has received some negative reviews for an awkward translation, but I like it. It's very evocative of the narrator's personality.

Great book for getting a feel for what life as a woman in the underbelly of Paris was like in the early 20th century.
Allison
"...as if there were nothing urgent in the world other than my desire to posses the wonders of the earth by way of my eyes!" -pg. 170

This is a delicious book. It's a study in contradictions: a protagonist who is an independent woman (contradictory enough for her era), who is both self-possessed and insecure, confident and timid, both comfortable with and terrified by uncertainty. It's a love story that defies every convention of cheesy formulaic romance novels. It's a story about how joy and anx
...more
Constance A. Dunn
Feb 24, 2014 Constance A. Dunn rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Literates
First off, I am bias towards this book, as any reader would be who finds a character too like-minded, too closely resembling her own set of cirsumstances. That being said, once the bond is created it then becomes a personal betrayal when the internal monologue is not the one the reader would have when their self-like character confronts the world.
What does any of this have to do with "The Vagabond?" Well, to be frank, the internal monologue didn't stray too far off from what I would of thought
...more
Joanna
I didn't like this book quite as much as Cheri & The Last of Cheri, but I still really enjoyed it. I loved the descriptions of stage performances and theater travel and I liked the musings on the competition between romantic relationships and professional freedom. But here, I found Renée somewhat tiresome in her overall distrust of passionate feelings. I wanted more exuberance from her about her theatrical work and her professional career. I was never sure that I entirely understood the love ...more
Alexandra
Alexandra can't spell. I just reviewed this book under the wrong spelling of Colette.


I don't understand why this book is not more widely celebrated. I read a stand-alone edition of The Vagabond and loved it. Renee's struggle with the difficult choice between the comforts of a conventional marriage and bourgeois life, at the price of her autonomy, and an often painful life of work and solitude is the same one many women go through today. Middle class social structures haven't changed much since
...more
Gláucia Renata
Narrado em primeira pessoa por René, uma atriz de cafés-concertos de Paris, uma mulher que viveu um desastroso casamento com um pintor e acabou levando uma vida marcada por essa união fracassada. René é escritora frustrada, não pode escrever pois precisa trabalhar duro pela sobrevivência. E não acredita mais no amor até que surge Maxime. E agora?
O livro é muito bem escrito, tem uma narrativa meio poética e traz algumas curiosidades sobre o mundo artístico mundano da época e o modo de vida desses
...more
Val
I liked the feminism of the book, but sometimes it was just a bit too wordy. I liked the ending and I was impressed with Renee. After reading Colette's biography, I expected her to be a staunchly independent and promiscuous woman, but Renee in the book was not that exactly. I like how she was not just one thing, she had duality and was a full person--not just a woman who was independant, but a woman was was independant but also felt things for men and had to decide what was best for her.
Tucki Bailey
30 years ago, in my twenties, I read this and felt I had a serious kindred spirit. Since then I have learned French if just to read it again in it's original language.
Izabela Dykowska
Absolutely loved it! Deep insight into the feminine psyche, that few manage to convey so vividly and at the same time so successfully to broad audiences.
Jonathan
What a great ending. I hated Maxime and was glad to see that Renée left him at the end to further pursue her life as a performer.
lisa gray
currently reading this... translated from french. sort of fanciful writing that is fun to escape in. more later...
Carol panaro-smith
i fell in love with colette one summer-i read everything that was in the mesa public library that summer.
Avery Grey
I adore Colette, and would give nearly everything she writes 4 or 5 stars. The translation of this was such a disappointment, though. When I read Colette, I want to feel like I'm living alongside the characters, in their clothes, in their neighborhoods, and in their conversations. This translation is so very British, I had a difficult time remembering Renee was a Parisienne showgirl, and not some saucy cockney wench from Whitechapel. I shall push ahead with my French studies so that, hopefully, ...more
Kristin
An excellent examination of what it means for a woman to live freely and independently in modern society. While the style was at times a little dramatic and even awkward, Colette lyrically expressed the tension between the need for companionship and the desire for a life unencumbered by obligation, possession and compromise.

The vagabond of this book is essentially a projection of Colette at a time in her own life, in which she was embittered by a bad divorce but enjoying her freedom as a musical
...more
Johnny
There is a lot to find tedious in Colette's semi-autobiographical novel centering on a Parisian divorcée making ends meet performing as a dancing mime in various near-burlesque theaters shortly after the start of the twentieth century. The title character Renée is consumed with the freedoms afforded her by being utterly alone while fearful of the aging without a partner. Her flirtations with a wealthy fop that develop into a potential marriage drive what little plot there is in the novel, but he ...more
Tanya
This is probably one of the best books I've read in a long, long time. So beautiful and smart. Colette's voice, the musings and revelations of Renee in the novel, the conflict between carving out a self-sufficient and fulfilling life (even if it's a financial struggle) vs relying on a romantic partner to provide all that is missing . . . Even though back then the choice being between a married woman looked after by her husband or instead being a "vagabond," a "woman of letters gone bad" who supp ...more
Kj
For those expecting "Diaries of a French Burlesque Dancer", prepare to be disappointed. While one may approach Colette's behind-the-scenes of a traveling pantomime artist in turn-of-the-century France expecting it to be flavored with salacious frivolity to match Colette's reputation, what you'll find is more an existentialist rumination on ambivalence, than story of a passionate life. In fact, if there's one thing that most defines the divorcee-turned-stage-performer Reneé Neré, it's her distrus ...more
Maggie
Sometimes I crave a good book. It's akin to opening the fridge and staring inside wishing for something to suddenly look good.

I was craving something with the smooth mouth feel of a The Thirteenth Stone or the tang of Grotesque and nothing seemed to fit. And then Edd handed me this book in paperback and I sat back and devoured it.

Renee is a divorcee. She's a writer turned music hall dancer. She has a small flat, an even smaller dog, and the world to herself. Lonely? Certainly. But Renee is the s
...more
Lisa
I do not as a rule re-read books. But when I do, I become thoroughly convinced that one never re-reads a book anymore than one steps into the same river twice. This is my third reading of Colette's The Vagabond. I like it even better this time. On this reading I was struck by the irony and humor, plus Colette's understanding of the natural world and her genius for conveying its beauty stood out more than they had in previous readings.

Renée's difficulty in choosing between love and independence
...more
Rebecca
This book is semi-biographical, as in Colette being a divorcée when she wrote it and she worked on cabarets to make end meet - as does Renée Néré, the main character in this book. The story in itself is quite simple, but simple as in uncomplicated and straightforward focusing just on Renée and her thoughts against the canvas of her work - NOT as simple as in the writer was trying to get away with making things easy for herself. It's quite the gem!


(I read the book in a Swedish translation - just
...more
Kit Kincade
It occurs to me as I read Colette again after a long hiatus, that she reminds me of Jean Rhys. Rhys has a bit tighter control of her descriptions (at least compared to this novel) but both novelists evoke the same kind of feeling. I was glad it ended as it did (no spoilers), any other way would not have been true to the main character.
Jason Gignac
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elizabeth Schurman
"A look of his can rouse me and I cease to belong to myself if he puts his mouth on mine? In that case he is my enemy, he is the thief who steals me from myself."
Book about romantic love that ends with a woman deciding not to go into a relationship because she recognizes what a mess it can be, and she's not sure she wants to give up her independence. That was so refreshing, I don't actually care that I enjoyed reading it. I think it's the only book I've ever read about romantic love which ends t
...more
Becki Iverson
Having heard many praises of Colette, I was really excited to read this novel. It has all the elements of stories I usually like - independent women, early twentieth century, life behind the scenes (literally).

Like Lolita, though, this just didn't capture me. Collete's writing is much less polished than what we're used to seeing today - almost to the point of stream of consciousness, at moments - and no less enjoyable for it. In fact, that is part of this book's charm, I think - it feels colloq
...more
Vivian LeMay
Jul 24, 2012 Vivian LeMay rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any woman

Gabrielle Sidonie Colette did not believe in happy endings, only in truth. Her writings convey the most basic truths of human life so honestly that her stories should be cruel. But she expresses these truths––the good and the bad ––so beautifully, her writing never seems cruel or trite. It is what it is...perfection.

Take the Colette challenge.
Open this book, The Vagabond, to any page. Don't worry about character or plot, just read whatever page you find. It will captivate you. Every word belong
...more
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Colette was the pen name of the French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. She is best known, at least in the English-speaking world, for her novel Gigi, which provided the plot for a Lerner & Loewe musical film and stage musical.
More about Colette...
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“I want nothing from love, in short, but love.” 51 likes
“I have found my voice again and the art of using it...” 35 likes
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