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Earthly Paradise

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  194 ratings  ·  17 reviews
The place of Colette among twentieth-century French writers of fiction is comparable to that of Proust. But Colette's high and certain rank in literature is determined equally by her autobiographical writings as by her novels: the imaginary characters of Cheri, Gigi, Claudine, et al. can only rival, but not excel, Colette's portraits of her family and her extraordinary fri ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published December 12th 1974 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1953)
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4.37  · 
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 ·  194 ratings  ·  17 reviews

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Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, autobiography
I checked this book out from the school library which still uses those cards attached to the back cover stamped with due dates. I like seeing the history. Above mine, only two: DEC 05 1995. JUN 12 1992. A forgotten author. On Goodreads, barely 100 ratings.

It's a strange, wonderful book. There's a lot in it. I love the World War II entries. The final Blue Lantern section. Sido and childhood. The descriptions of nature, flowers, the seasons, food. And the portraits, she gives a beautiful one of Pr
Aug 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students of human nature
Shelves: comfortbooks
This is one of those books I turn to when I'm out of sorts, to take comfort in Colette's deceptively simple essays about growing up in the countryside in France and the twists and turns her life took after. I'm fondest of the early part, as she writes ode after ode to her mother, a passionate gardener and amateur naturalist, peeling apart the layers of complexity she came to recognize as she grew up. Colette combines an exquisite sense of the natural world with a sometimes cruel, sometimes kind ...more
Jul 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
(10/10) Far more than the memoirs of a half-remembered author, Earthly Paradise is a collection of memories and experiences that speak to every part of life with both sensual and intellectual brilliance. There's an erotic undercurrent to the most innocent of memories, supplied by Colette's lush prose and teasing hints as to the scandals of her life. And there's no shortage of witticisms, some of which I actually laughed at.

If you're interested in reading an autobiographical modernist narrative t
Aug 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Arwen and I met a boy named Boris on a train from the coast of Greece into Athens. Boris was a handsome, rakish kind of a lad, and he smoked a cigarette and traveled up and down the train talking to everyone on it. He asked Arwen what she was reading and she was reading Proust. She'd brought Proust on the trip because he was so heavy and chock full that one couldn't possibly finish him even on a six-week trip, so she'd only have to bring the one book. Boris told us that his father had been readi ...more
Sep 12, 2012 rated it liked it
I admit I only read this because it features in Alison Bechdel's Fun Home. Disappointed there's virtually no lesbianism to be found within this 500+ tome - Amalia X on pg 397 is the only mention of dykery. Colette does write well, though, which makes it an enjoyable read.
Debbie Hoskins
Aug 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm going back about 30 years. I'm pretty sure this is the book. I remember the cover. Colette had a fascinating life and I was inspired by it in my early 20's.
Briar Fleming
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jan 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've only ever read Colette's short fiction before but have always thought she was a terrific writer and I adored this "autobiography." Essays within not only told about parts of her life, but also include observations on humanity and delightful meditations on such things as wine, cheese, gardening, and other activities I thoroughly enjoy. I have "Night without sleep" marked in the book so that I can return to it over and over again on the moments I'm not feeling especially cynical about love, a ...more
Laura  Yan
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: french
Colette's writing is simply exquisite. As are her insights on life, love, sex, theater, flowers, animals, and of course, the incomparable Sido. This is a lesson in the beauty of observation, in poetic prose, in noticing and capturing what's so often overlooked. This is a book to be savored slowly, for the pleasure of language and of reading.
Carol Peters
Sep 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
An assembly of Colette's non-novel writings, Phelps has done a fine job, the best parts are divine, the worst still worth reading. I thoroughly enjoyed this & suspect I'll be back reading Cheri before long.
Interesting, intelligent and courageous woman. I would expect that women readers will enjoy this more than the rest of us. Fourth star is for women readers, surely the majority.
Elan Durham
Oct 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A most lyrical collection of musings by one of France's most admired prose stylists.
Jul 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Feb 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A Lovely memoir of Colette; this autobio is an examination of Colette's life. Absolutely beautiful; delicious language. I greatly enjoyed this book
Mar 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must-read for Colette-freaks, like myself.
May 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wonderfully written excepts of Colette's life. Her descriptions of her mother are wonderful.
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Colette was the pen name of the French novelist and actress Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. She is best known, at least in the English-speaking world, for her novella Gigi, which provided the plot for a famous Lerner & Loewe musical film and stage musical. She started her writing career penning the influential Claudine novels of books. The novel Chéri is often cited as her masterpiece.
“The writer who loses his self-doubt, who gives way as he grows old to a sudden euphoria, to prolixity, should stop writing immediately: the time has come for him to lay aside his pen.” 16 likes
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