I love Colette. She has a writing style and voice that are comfortable and comforting, and even translated from French, her words have nuance and poetry. (I’m assuming that’s not just due to the translator; I’m guessing that the nuance and poetry is in the French version too.)
Her regular “voice” is that of a French girl (or woman) as they go through the travails of love and life, and it’s a very intimate, personal voice. Even when her stories center on young men (like her Cheri series), the young man is rather feminized or takes a feminine role (ie. Cheri being a kept boy).
Ripening Seed is different, in that the voice is more male, less introspective. The narrator is Phillip, a young man of almost 17 who has loved his friend Vinca since they were children. As their families spend the summer together as they do every year, Phillip and Vinca notice the awkwardness that age is putting into their relationship. Too old to play innocently, too young to get married, they exist in a no mans land, in a time before a teenager was something to be. Phillip ends up in an affair with an older woman, and this potential destroyer of his relationship with Vinca is at the center of the book.
As I said above, the voice for this book is completely different than anything I’ve read of Colette’s to this point, which actually is an awful lot. It’s done well, and I’m not complaining, it just caught me by suprise, and I actually checked the inside cover to make sure that it was the same Colette, and not someone with Colette as a last name. I didn’t really need to check, as there were little stylistic things that betrayed Colette as the author, but it was still a change, and startling.
The end of the book is poignant and well done, and made me glad that this story was told in Phillip’s voice, and that we saw the events through his eyes. If it had been Vinca it would have been the same story that Colette has told before, and this switch made it fresh and new.
Current total: 5
Just Finished: Ripening Seed by Colette
Next Up: Urn Burial by Kerry Greenwood