Break of Day

Reading Eve Babitz’s book, I was reminded of the existence of Colette, thus picked this from the shelves. Parts of this are excellent, mostly the snippets from her mother’s letters and musings on aging. The section that stuck most in my craw was the ill-advised affair with her lapdog, Vial, a handsome youth whom Colette tries to interest in another younger woman but who only has eyes for Madame Colette. But the descriptions of the hot, dusty summer in Provence, gathering together for impromptu dinners with friends, sleeping outside under the stars, all these make it worth a read.

My favorite bit from her mother’s letter is when she’s raging about wanting to sleep in her own house alone, without caring about potential burglars or tramps:

“Give me a dog if you want. Yes, a dog, I’ll agree to that. But don’t compel me to be shut up with someone at night! I’ve reached the point where I can’t bear to have a human being sleeping in my house… It’s the final return to single life when you refuse to have any longer in your house, specially if it’s a small one, an unmade bed, a pail of slops, an individual—man or woman—walking about in a nightshirt. Ugh! No, no, no more company at night, no more strangers breathing, no more of that humiliation of waking up simultaneously! I prefer to die, it’s more seemly.”