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(Chéri #1)

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  2,384 ratings  ·  190 reviews
Léa de Lonval is an aging courtesan, a once famous beauty facing the end of her sexual career. She is also facing the end of her most intense love affair, with Fred Peloux--known as Chéri--a playboy half her age. But neither lover understands how deeply they are attached, or how much life they will give up by parting ways.
Paperback, 122 pages
Published September 6th 2001 by Vintage Classics (first published 1920)
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3.67  · 
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 ·  2,384 ratings  ·  190 reviews

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Steven Godin
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: amour, fiction, france, paris
Reading Colette's short novel Chéri, felt like munching on a box of fancy Belgian truffles, and in this case washed down with a bottle of fine vintage French wine, everything is all very French and all very luxurious. On it's first publication in 1920 both Marcel Proust and André Gide deemed it as a masterpiece, I wouldn't go as far as to say that, but was pleasantly surprised how pleasurable a read it was. I love how the female lead character Léa de Lonval is described as a magnificent and agin ...more
Cheri is the story of a privileged and wealthy young Frenchman living with a wealthy courtesan (Lea). She is much older, 50 vs 25, and when Cheri marries a young woman, Lea realizes that she loves him and he is gone forever. It's a little more involved but that's the gist of the story. This book was published in 1920 and is one of her better known works, but honestly, I prefer her early novels, especially the "Claudine" books. Colette would live a long life (1873-1954), and she wrote well into ...more
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Colette herself is one of the great stories of literature. Indentured as a ghost writer by her lecherous husband, a writer of trash, she escaped from his shadow (and the marriage) to become the novelist he never was. Openly bisexual, she was considered a leading light of French literature and became the president of the prestigious Academie Goncourt. She eventually won the greatest honor of all: being played by Keira Knightley in a rote biopic.

The author looking like she might seduce a youth at
My first time trying Colette. The novella, set in the Paris suburbs, circles the relationship of Léa de Lonval, an ageing courtesan, and Frédérick Peloux, her handsome, supercilious lover boy (“the set of his head! quite a statue! But what a little beast he is! When he laughs, you’d swear it’s a greyhound snarling!”). Although they’ve been together for six years, the young man, whom she simply calls Chéri (“dear one”) is just 25 – about half her age. When Chéri’s mother arranges a financially be ...more
Feb 07, 2014 rated it did not like it
I read this book in readiness for a group discussion. There are lots of positive reviews around so clearly many readers have found much to enjoy. I found nothing to enjoy, indeed I thought it was one of the worst books I have ever read and give it one star - a rating I have never used before.

The basic plot is very straightforward (and, as it was on cover of my edition, I don't think the story is meant to be the point): 25 year old Chéri (real name Fred), the son of a wealthy courtesan, has been

Description: Léa de Lonval is an aging courtesan, a once famous beauty facing the end of her sexual career. She is also facing the end of her most intense love affair, with Fred Peloux—known as Chéri—a playboy half her age. But neither lover under-stands how deeply they are attached, or how much life they will give up by parting ways.

1/5. After a six-year affair, Cheri announces to Lea he is about to enter into an arranged marriage.

2/5. Lea has to face the
Apr 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

From BBC Radio 4 - 15 Minute Drama:
Colette's tale of a love affair between a courtesan and a man half her age, set in Paris before WWI.

1/5. After a six-year affair, Cheri announces to Lea he is about to enter into an arranged marriage.

2/5. Lea has to face the harsh reality of her young lover Cheri's marriage to another woman.

3/5. Cheri returns from honeymoon dissatisfied, yearning to know where Lea has fled.

4/5. Lea has returned to Paris, lonely and y
As I said, not my cup of tea.
Mina Soare
With stunning prose, engrossing descriptions and spectacular character depictions, Collette outdid herself. The level of significance in every detail makes every scene even more expressive for the relationship between setting, society and character marking this a realist balzacian novel.

Now, despite the numerous modern elements, the title drawing attention to the enigma of one character being the most conspicuous, I don't like neither the realism nor the ending so there goes one star.

I think this was the wrong book for me at this time. However, it would never be a favorite as I found the pace too slow. Colette gives beautifully written descriptions so I can understand why some would appreciate her writing more than I did.

As for the plot, I could relate to Léa (as I am also a woman of a certain age) but Chéri struck me as a lout and so I couldn't really understand his appeal.
May 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
This is more like a 2.5 stars but as always I round down.

I read this book to practice my French and if you are reading the book for the same reasons Colette is both a good and bad choice. Good because she uses a lot of different words (I now know a bunch of ways to describe how people lean on things lol), but bad because some of her words are so... idiosyncratic? I guess? that some of them weren't in dictionaries I looked at. Her French was also kind of difficult for me at times that I had to l
Emilia Barnes
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It took me a while to get into this or even understand it. At the beginning especially both Chéri and Léa (but Chéri in particular) seemed inscrutable and annoying to me. But Colette's writing is like fine wine or a really fancy meal. It's not a matter of whether you like it or not: its brilliance reveals itself to you and you can only marvel at it.

What a frustrating book. It isn't badly written, but only if it were written quite differently would I really enjoy it.

Chéri and Léa are difficult, unsympathetic characters - but this is a type I often find interesting to read about. Books can show such people's underlying thoughts and feelings, and the events that made them so disagreeable: they can make them sympathetic and understandable if you are reasonably open-minded.

But we hear nothing of Chéri's inner life, and in writing alone ther
Jul 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Colette fans
Recommended to Wayne by: Colette, of course!!

A wonderful look at the cultural trappings that every society brings to the most natural and urgent of natural instincts - consequently and ironically well and truly "fucking" it up for just about everybody.

I enjoyed "Gigi" and "Cheri" once I'd got my head around the sexual culture of certain segments of French Society of the Fin de Siecle.
The Loneliness and yet High Social Profile of the Courtesan is well and truly captured by Colette. Its ironies, possibilities of great wealth,its pitfalls,its
This book is so wonderfully written. The dialogue is too realistic; it's painful to read the conversations between Chéri and Léa and between Chéri and Edmée. Colette's treatment of relationships is excellent. She builds the characters and their interactions with each other quickly. This book is less than two hundred pages, yet I feel like I've known Charlotte, Léa, Chéri, and Edmée. I understand their world, why and how they are the way they are with each other. The last ten pages are the best f ...more
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
What to make of a "love story" between a woman of 50 and a young man half her age? She is attracted to him because of his youth, his good looks, his easy-going ways. She appeals to him for her sophistication, both in her looks on which she expends enormous energy, and her exquisite taste in food and entertainment. But he, the "Cheri" of the title, marries a woman his own age, it being an appropriate thing to do, and the older woman (Lea) goes off on an extended vacation to try to forget her los ...more
Whitney (First Impressions Reviews)
Cheri by Colette, centers around Lea and Cheri and their six year love affair. Respectfully 49 and 25 at the novels opening, both believe that their relationship to be casual until Cheri is to be married and realize that they were in fact in love. After Cheri's marriage they are separated for six months due to Lea's inability to cope with the new revelations. When she at last returns Cheri visits, they have one last romp in the sheets and the next morning while Lea plans their future together, C ...more
Jul 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What makes Colette so endearing and what probably pulls her away from the spotlight of the French canon is just how fun and breezy she is. Her prose is light and nimble, never stumbling for a second as she lets her energetic characters spar wits against each other in good fun. This light atmosphere she herself takes joy in does its best to mask everything that's going on under the hood of this novel, from its psychologically intricate characters, to the depth of observation she has, and of cours ...more
Nose in a book (Kate)
Aug 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Chéri is one of Colette’s better known works, so I already knew the rough storyline before finally reading this, but as always her language is as much the attraction as her stories. Chéri is an attractive wealthy young man who has been coached for six years in the art of love by middle-aged courtesan Léa. Now it’s time for Chéri to marry a suitable young lady, and in parting ways, both he and Léa must face their true feelings for one another, which have long been a source of irony and gentle reb ...more
Dec 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Slight but sensual, like a nice bath.
Between 3 and 4 stars...a sensuous, extremely French novel about the luxurious love affair between a 50 year-old courtesan and her 25 year-old lover of seven years who gets married to a woman his age comme il faut. Heavy on feelings but light on plot, so it was hard to stay engaged with it when it's mostly just ennui and yearning. Very beautiful book, though, and good for what I was using it for which was, during the semester, a way to unwind after a long day but still work on my French.
Sophie Cayeux
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is about the end of a love story between a young man of twenty-five, Cheri, and his twenty-four years older mistress, Lea. Their affair spanned about six years until his (Cheri's) marriage. It is a sad story about the pain of ageing, the selfishness of youth, the grief of separation. Cheri is a spoilt rich brat but he is gorgeous. Lea adores him and indulges all his caprices. Both are gutted when they are separated for six months following Cheri’s marriage. However their romance has a cruel ...more
As a story, there wasn't a lot to this—an aging, but still lovely courtesan has a six-year affair with a selfish young man. The affair ends when he marries. They both suffer.
BUT there was a lot more to it than that.
Colette's writing is beautiful (in French anyway, I don't know how her language translates). In all her work, the natural world--trees, flowers, skies—is lovingly described. Reading her, I can practically smell the rain on the pavement or imagine the greenery in the Bois de Boulogne.
Apr 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, french-lit
‘Chéri’ merits the term confection - reading this novella is a little like eating a chocolate eclair. The titular Chéri is a beautiful, spoiled, and capricious young man who reminded me somewhat of Daisy in The Great Gatsby. Like her, he seems to exist mainly to be ornamental. We see him largely through the eyes of Léa, his lover. She is twenty-four years older than him and is utterly in charge of the relationship. I liked her very much and appreciated her intelligence and self-awareness, qualit ...more
Nov 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: overrated-books
I like Colette; she's a brilliant and vibrant writer. She can write a story that hits every sweet spot in your soul-- spots you didn't even know you had let alone understood until she presents it to you. But I didn't like Cheri--not the book or the story, because, again; she has a crazy talent for story telling, but the character. I hated Cheri. Talk about your perpetual little boy. He is a character who will never grow up; he thinks the world revolves around him and that that gives him the righ ...more
Eve Kay
The ending is so beautiful, if not anything else, read this for the ending!
The prose was beautiful and it is evident Colette is a good writer. The style is wonderful and the text and all the descriptions are very well done.
I kind of liked the story but that wasn't necessarily why I read this. I've read a whole heap of books about age differences in relationships, at least it feels that way, and in that sense this one wasn't anything special. Also, I just really have to point out that these kinds
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't tell you why but I have a fondness for this story. The way the author writes, her descriptions, the epoch/setting of this story - I dig it all. It's a very specific reader who would enjoy a story like this one, so I can appreciate how many wouldn't like it, but I really enjoyed it through and through. Full disclosure I saw the movie first, loathed the lead who played Fred, but the sumptuous sets and fashion stuck with me and informed my imagination while reading this. The translation ...more
After seeing the movie, I went back to the book, and it reads like a dream. Couldn't avoid visualizing Michelle and Rupert in the roles, though looking at pictures from the period, Michelle at least is a little thin for the part. Colette is a very fluid and sensual writer, and the tragedy of the novel steams along like a runaway train. At this point, I'm not quite up to "La Fin de Chéri," since Léa becomes gray haired and quite obese in that one.
Jan 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: romance
Short and sweet tale of a young, spoilt, rich young man and the end of his affair with a woman 24 years his senior.
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Bright Young Things: March 2014- Cheri by Colette 15 28 Mar 16, 2014 07:50AM  

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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.

Other books in the series

Chéri (2 books)
  • The Last of Cheri
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“I love my past. I love my present. I'm not ashamed of what I've had, and I'm not sad because I have it no longer.” 118 likes
“They looked at each other in open hostility—she, leaning on her elbow in a flurry of frills and lace; he, sitting side-saddle on the edge of the bed. He was thinking ‘Who’s she to talk of any wrinkles I may have one day?’ and she ‘Why is he so ugly when he laughs?—he who’s the very picture of beauty!’ She thought for a moment, then finished aloud: “It’s because you look so ill-natured when you’re joking. You never laugh except unkindly—ᴀᴛ people, and that makes you ugly. You’re often ugly.” 4 likes
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