Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette

When Tristan grabs Rory’s books from her in a pathetic attempt to hold them hostage until she agrees to go the concert with him, this is one of the books we can see in the pile.

Colette, born Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (1873-1954) was a novelist, short-story writer, journalist, actress and mime. Her works, which are often about married life and female sexuality, were semi-autobiographical, and highly critical of conventional roles for women. Colette is regarded as one of France’s great women writers, with one of her best known works the novella Gigi (1944), which was adapted into a film and a musical.

Judith Thurman is a journalist who became a staff writer for The New Yorker in 2000, and writes about fashion, literature, and culture. Her Colette biography was first published in 1999 and reprinted in 2000; it won The Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Salon Book Award in the biography category of each.

Thurman also wrote an award-winning biography of Isak Dinesen in 1983, which was used as the basis for the film Out of Africa, previously discussed.

It is not surprising that Rory would want to read a biography of an unconventional female writer, written by someone who is doing what Rory would love to do – we know she is a fan of The New Yorker. Reading a biography of Colette suggests that she has already read novels by Colette, and as we know she loves Isak Dinesen, she has probably read the earlier biography by Judith Thurman as well.

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