1 July 2011

The Cat

As promised, today I will be kicking off our Paris in July with the second, and far superior (in my opinion), half of Gigi and the Cat. Alain is a young man about to embark out into married life with the sexy yet rather vacuous Camille. However, to do so he must leave behind the family home and, much more disturbingly for him, the company of his beloved chartreuse cat, Saha. (I think I'm on a cat themed-roll at the moment, don't you?)

Moving into a small Parisian apartment to enjoy his newly married life, the separation of man and pet soon becomes unbearable for both of them and Saha is swiftly moved in to sun herself on their balcony and curl up on the laundry basket. Alain is a man struggling to move on with his life, struggling to grow up in many ways and the unendearing and rather shallow personality of his new wife certainly does not prove strong enough to break the bond between her new man and the one creature who truly does understand him. Some may link the breakdown of this relationship directly to the presence of this bewitching animal. However, Alain is a restless character from the start, never throwing himself with complete abandon into the arms of his lover; seeming most comfortable in his childhood bedroom, playing in his mother's garden in pyjamas that are far too small for him.

'"My little puma! Beloved cat! Creature of the tree-tops! How will you live if we're seperated?"...She listened to him, watching him with a tender, absent expression. But when the friendly voice began to tremble, she looked away.'
p. 77

I don't blame Alain for his apathy towards his new life, for his desire to hang on to the past and disinterest in uninteresting people. I, like him, would much rather spend my time with a cat. Like Paul Gallico, Colette describes Saha with great eloquence and subtlety, betraying an implicit knowledge and understanding of these animals.

Unlike Gigi, this story is the perfect length, it is pretty and profound and I loved it. I'd also highly recommend Chéri and The last of Chérie, which were my first Colette books and carry fond memories of reclining in the Parc Monceau with a slab of cheese, baguette and a bottle of red wine...aaah bliss.

À toute!


  1. Just stumbled across you're blog and really love your writing style (plus the fact you're reviewing lots of books I want to read!). I'm a new follower :-)

  2. Hrm....this story sounds a bit odd. Glad you enjoyed it! :)

  3. Ha! Not for you then? It is a funny one and would be quite odd if you weren't into cats...this 'love affair' he has with his animal did make me smile :)

  4. Hi Sophia

    Thanks so much! I'll return the compliment and the follow because your website looks great and it looks like we could pretty similar tastes in books :-) Am excited about discovering some new stories with you!

  5. Le chat is on my July in Paris list too. I can already see that I will love it. I love Colette anyway and I do love my cat.
    I the French paperback tît isn't paired with Gigi.
    Bella Vista is alos an option and of course Chéri, paired with the movie.
    When I was still living in Paris I went to the Parc Monceau as often as I could. Do you know Rose Tremain's novel The Way I Found Her? Parc Monceau is the setting.

  6. That sounds such an intriguing book. I love the concept, that Alain can't separate himself from his cat. Beautiful pictures too.

  7. I'm reading Ripening Seed by Colette for Paris in July and dug out myold Gigi to read too. I loved the film as a teenager and so will always love the book for nostalgic memories.

  8. Hi guys

    So glad to see some more Colette fans on here!

    Caroline - I'm sure you'll love this. Tu vas le lire en francais alors? I've never heard of The Way I Found Her but I'm adding this to my Amazon wish list now! Am always keen for great recommendations :-)

    Louise - It is a brilliant book, I found his childlike qualities and relationship with the cat quite funny in parts as well!

    Hi Joan - I've never read the Ripening Seed. I've got the whole Colette collection in French and have read stories here and there over the years. Never seen the film adaptation of Gigi either. It's worth a watch then?

  9. Oui, je vais le lire en français. I just started and love it.
    I hope you will like Tremain's novel.