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La Vagabonde

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  1,411 ratings  ·  93 reviews
Colette takes the listener backstage and into the demimonde of Rene Nr, an aging dancer, mime, and failed writer in turn-of-the-century Paris who struggles to choose between freedom and love.
Audio CD, 6 pages
Published December 1st 2007 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1910)
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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
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
'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
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
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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,
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
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
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 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
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
Chandrika Das
Profound! Leaves an indelible impression. Highly recommended.
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
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.
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.
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...
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
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
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
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
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
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
This book was beautifully written, especially towards the end. The first half was a little boring and self-indulgent, but it picked up once the love interest entered the story. I totally understand the conundrum of wanting security and someone to share your life with versus valuing your independence. However, I was left wondering if she feared commitment only because she wanted her freedom, or was it because she wasn't over her first husband? Or, was it because deep down, she didn't think Max wa ...more
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
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
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.
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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...
Cheri and The Last of Cheri The Complete Claudine The Collected Stories Gigi & The Cat The Pure and the Impure

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“I want nothing from love, in short, but love.” 60 likes
“I have found my voice again and the art of using it...” 40 likes
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