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The Vagabond

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,857 Ratings  ·  137 Reviews
From the author of Gigi comes 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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I've enjoyed all the Colette books that I have read, but The Vagabond is my favorite. 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 bachelo ...more
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jim Fonseca
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'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
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written but not at all what I expected. I guess that I was thinking it would be something like Gigi; instead, it is the painfully melancholy story of a woman so wounded by her failed marriage that she is struggling to suppress all emotional attachments.
Jul 05, 2010 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
Constance Dunn
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Feb 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Colette dit je et parle au présent, quand elle écrit Renée.

Renée est artiste de music-hall pour mieux être libre, libre de son premier mari, libre amoureusement et financièrement. Mais saura-t-elle garder cette indépendance, après sa rencontre avec Maxime, un riche héritier qui s'éprend d'elle ?

A travers un texte simple et direct, parfois fragile et d'autres fois travaillé, Colette parle de l'indépendance de la femme, tout en décrivant son monde de music-hall, peuplé d'acrobates aux visages fa
Adriana Scarpin
É diferente do que eu esperava, ao menos a descrição que vi em certos lugares torna a protagonista muito menos pudica do que de fato ela é, mas mesmo com uma impressão errada de se colocar a liberdade acima do temor que ela de fato sente, é uma boa obra à frente de seu tempo que aplaca a irritante lenda de que tudo que uma mulher de fato quer é um homem.
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Délicieusement début XXe !
Tucki Bailey
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-book, classics, 2017
I was expecting this to be a bit like Age of Innocence, and I guess it is, thematically. But it's also feels a bit like Virginia Woolf. That's a problem because I've never been a big fan of her writing.

In addition to a stream-of-consciousness style, it's also written rather colloquially with lots and lots of sentence fragments and at least half a dozen ellipses per page.

Three's something off-putting about the prose. All the ellipses and sentence fragments don't quite scan in English - the sente
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 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.
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Tu mi volevi illuminare di quella banale aurora, poiché mi compiangevi così buia. Buia, se vuoi: come una camera vista dall'esterno. Scura, e non buia. Scura, e arredata dalla diligenza di una vigile tristezza; argentata e crepuscolare come l'upupa, come il sorcio setaceo, come l'ala della tarma. Scura, con il rosso riflesso di un ricordo straziante... Ma tu sei colui di fronte al quale non avrei più il diritto di essere triste."
Jennie Rogers
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french, 20th-century
*everybody's got to learn sometime by beck plays*

Mar 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
La novela es de 1910, la narradora, una dramática, el lenguaje, muchas veces rimbombante. Pero, al mismo tiempo, contiene muchos pensamientos lúcidos y una decisión muy moderna para la época.
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: otros
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cameron Sant
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a fun book. A trip into the life of a small actress/mime in turn of the 20th century France.

The narrator lushly describes the Parisian theater life and contemplates how to move on from a terrible marriage.

The ending took me by surprise but I appreciated it a lot.
I think it's a pretty feminist book--I wouldn't say that about all of Colette's writings, but definitely this one. Give it a shot!
Oct 10, 2013 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
Mar 01, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 18, 2015 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.
Jun 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: european-novels
A well written account of a woman's choice between independent loneliness and boring domesticity (the latter leading to disillusion). Set behind the stage in French musical theatre a hundred years ago; deserves to be better known.
Apr 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i fell in love with colette one summer-i read everything that was in the mesa public library that summer.
Chandrika Das
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Profound! Leaves an indelible impression. Highly recommended.
lisa gray
Mar 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
currently reading this... translated from french. sort of fanciful writing that is fun to escape in. more later...
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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.
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“I want nothing from love, in short, but love.” 67 likes
“I have found my voice again and the art of using it...” 50 likes
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