An exquisite new translation of Colette’s tragicomic masterpiece, a pair of novels exploring the relationship between an aging courtesan and a much younger man.
Chéri and its sequel, The End of Chéri, mark Colette’s finest achievements in their brilliant, subtle, and frank investigations of love and power. Set in the Parisian demimonde in the last days of the Belle Époque, Chéri tells the story of Léa, a courtesan at the end of a successful career, and her lover, the beautiful but emotionally opaque Chéri. Chéri will soon enter into an arranged marriage, ending their six-year affair, which—they will each realize too late—has been the one real love of their lives.
The End of Chéri picks up their story in the aftermath of the First World War. Chéri, now a decorated soldier, has returned from the trenches to a changed world. Emotionally estranged from his independent and unfaithful wife, a psychically wounded Chéri begins an inexorable descent—one that leads him back to a stunning encounter with Léa.
As the acclaimed writer and translator Lydia Davis puts it in an illuminating foreword, Rachel Careau’s “brilliantly ingenious, close new translation” reveals Chéri and The End of Chéri as “the strangest of love stories.” Colette skillfully portrays her characters’ shifting inner lives and desires amid a clear-eyed depiction of interpersonal power dynamics. Careau’s lean, attentive translation restores to these classic novels their taut, remarkably modern style—the essence of Colette’s genius.