TRANSLATED BY ROGER SENHOUSE
Lea de Lonval is a magnificent and aging courtesan facing the end of her career. She has devoted the last six years to the amorous education of the exquisitely handsome and spoilt Cheri - a playboy half her age. When an advantageous marriage is arranged for Cheri, Lea reluctantly decides their relationship must end. But neither lover can forsee how deeply they are connected, or how much they will have to give up.
First published in 1920, it was instantly greeted by Marcel Proust and Andre Gide as a masterpiece.
`I devoured Cheri at a gulp. What a wonderful subject and with what intelligence, mastery and understanding of the least-admitted secrets of the flesh' Andre Gide
Colette, the creator of Claudine, Cheri and Gigi, and one of France's outstanding writers, had a long, varied and active life. She was born in Burgundy on 1873 into a home overflowing with dogs, cats and children, and educated at the local village school. At the age of twenty she moved to Paris with her first husband, the notorious writer and critic Henry Gauthiers-Viller (Willy). By locking her in her room, Willy forced Collette to write her first novels (the Claudine sequence), which he published under his name. They were an instant success. Colettte left Willy in 1906 and worked in music-halls as an actor and dancer. She had a love affair with Napoleon's niece, married twice more, had a baby at 40 and at 47. Her writing, which included novels, portraits, essays and a large body of autobiographical prose, was admired by Proust and Gide. She was the first woman President of the Academie Goncourt, and when she died, aged 81, she was given a state funeral and buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.