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The Vagabond

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,531 Ratings  ·  109 Reviews
Thirty-three years-old and recently divorced, Renée Néré has begun a new life on her own, supporting herself as a music-hall artist. Maxime, a rich and idle bachelor, intrudes on her independent existence and offers his love and the comforts of marriage. A provincial tour puts distance between them and enables Renée, in a moving series of leters and meditations, to resolve
Paperback, 252 pages
Published September 5th 2001 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1910)
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Best French Literature
115th out of 602 books — 1,149 voters
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Best Feminist Fiction
226th out of 985 books — 2,118 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Feb 25, 2015 Chrissie rated it really liked it
Why in the world did I like this so much?

Is it the plot? It is about a music-hall dancer, Rénée Néré. She is thirty-three, a Parisian of Montmartre, a recent divorcée. She is burnt by marriage. She is determined and hardened, but honestly she is really just hurt. Hard on the surface and determined to survive. Will she choose to manage on her own or will she marry into an easy life of comfort and wealth…but what must she sacrifice then? What does she really want? We watch her path toward self-dis
Nov 15, 2008 Eric rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 10, 2009 Jessica rated it really liked it
'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
I've enjoyed all the Colette books that I have read, but The Vagabond is my favorite, so far. Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a French writer in the early 20th century, created the memorable characters of Gigi, Cheri, Claudine, and from The Vagabond, Renee Here. Renee gave her love to her first husband who cheated on her and left her. Now at age 33 she is independent, working as a successful dancer and actor, lonely, but afraid to give her heart to anyone again. Then along comes the handsome and rich ...more
Jim Fonseca
Sep 13, 2015 Jim Fonseca rated it it was amazing
Long before Cher and Madonna thought they invented “first names only,” there was Colette (1873-1954). And long before gay rights, Collette, who was bisexual, flaunted her numerous lesbian affairs. Of course this was Paris, not Peoria. In addition to being an author, Colette was a stage performer – actress, mime and dancer and that time of her life informs this book. I’ve since read that the title, “The Vagabond” is in error and it really should be more properly translated as “The Wanderer.” Inte ...more
Feb 08, 2011 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 14, 2010 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 31, 2015 Mercurialgem rated it it was amazing
I just finished this book and I could cry from sadness and anger. I hate that Colette ended it like that. WHY??? My heart aches for both characters.

This 1910 novel was written from the author's own experiences, which one can read in a short biography at the start. This information allowed me to understand the protagonist's feelings on love and the choices she made. On a personal level, I can identify with Renee on the fear of love and of losing one's own freedom and self to it. I would give thi
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,
Nancy Burns
Strong point:She shows us the ashes left behind after the sparks of desire.

My review:
Jan 07, 2008 Jolifanta rated it liked it
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.
Tucki Bailey
Aug 02, 2011 Tucki Bailey rated it it was amazing
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.
Constance Dunn
Feb 24, 2014 Constance Dunn rated it really liked it
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
Oct 24, 2013 Joanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 22, 2015 Sindi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015

This book was really boring. I had to convince myself to finish it since it's a required reading. I like the ultimate end of this book but the characters (especially Maxime) were very frustrating. I understand the theme and the message of the book but I was too upset to enjoy it.
Chandrika Das
Jan 06, 2015 Chandrika Das rated it it was amazing
Profound! Leaves an indelible impression. Highly recommended.
Joan Curtis
Aug 26, 2015 Joan Curtis rated it really liked it
Full disclosure. Colette is one of my favorite authors. I tend to read and re-read all her books. That's why I was thrilled to see Vagabond on Kindle and I immediately ordered it. I was not disappointed. Colette writes with in a unique style, almost a flourish. You can almost see her ink pen on paper. Because she wrote in the early 20th Century, she probably did write with pen and ink.

This book is about a young woman's struggle for independence, Considering this book was published originally in
Sarah Echo
Jun 28, 2015 Sarah Echo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first full-length novel by Colette that I have read, and I was pleasantly surprised by just how lyrical and beautiful her writing is. Every passage is like a song, from the heroine’s wanderings in the park, to her laments and agonies over loving a man. One could read this book as an example of an early women’s liberation story, but I think it’s really deeper than that. In a time when women were meant to be submissive toward their husbands, Renée, having been deeply hurt and humiliate ...more
Gláucia Renata
Nov 23, 2014 Gláucia Renata rated it liked it
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
Joel Van Valin
Jan 09, 2016 Joel Van Valin rated it it was amazing
Renée Néré is a recent divorcee who makes a living on the stage, acting as a mime with her mentor Brague (based on Georges Wague) at the Empyrée-Clichy music hall. She is haunted by the memories of her ex-husband, the artist Taillandy (an obvious write-in for Willy), who abused her, cheated on her, and even had her take his mistress shopping so he could make an assignation with another mistress. Now living alone in a flat with her dog Fossette, Renée leads a spartan existence; her only visitors ...more
Mar 16, 2010 Val rated it liked it
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.
Leslie (BooksInOtherWords)
Initially I gave this book a 4/5 because I'm trying to be more stingy with my 4s and 5s, but damnit, Colette... I know this book wasn't perfect, some of the scenes were a bit dramatic and a little over-wrought, but at the same time I loved it, I love Colette, I love the way that she writes animals as if they are people and the way that she describes the seasons and nature and food...

This was published when Colette was 43 and the way she wrote about marriage and relationships was just so on poin
Nose in a book (Kate)
Jan 17, 2016 Nose in a book (Kate) rated it it was amazing
I love Colette. This slim, seemingly simple novel is beautifully told and explores in great detail the psychological weight of the decisions we make.

Renée is a music-hall dancer in Paris. Divorced and in her 30s, she has to perform in seedy venues late at night to pay her rent but she doesn’t mind that. In fact, she quite enjoys it, though it does give her a great fear of getting old, knowing as she does that it is her looks and not her talent that the crowds are attracted to. For now she has an
Feb 05, 2016 Sierra rated it liked it
I had to read this book for my French Senior Seminar class. To be honest, I kind of really liked this book in spite of myself. I definitely wasn't expecting to like it, because I've had this teacher for 5 semesters now and she's never assigned anything I've liked and the beginning of this book just killed me. It's so figurative that it's hard to keep track of what she's saying a lot of the time and a lot of the book was really boring. But I found myself relating to this book so much. Just the wa ...more
Mar 01, 2015 Dvora rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, france, reread
It's been a few years since I read this, the first book by Colette that I ever read. And I must say that my reaction to the ending is much different than it was the first or second time. Then I was disappointed. Now I understand.
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.
Mar 28, 2011 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 01, 2007 lisa gray rated it really liked it
currently reading this... translated from french. sort of fanciful writing that is fun to escape in. more later...
Apr 29, 2008 Carol rated it it was amazing
i fell in love with colette one summer-i read everything that was in the mesa public library that summer.
Avery Grey
Sep 14, 2014 Avery Grey rated it liked it
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
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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.
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“I want nothing from love, in short, but love.” 61 likes
“I have found my voice again and the art of using it...” 43 likes
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