Books: Field Flowers

LETTERS FROM COLETTE Selected and Translated by Robert Phelps Farrar, Straus & Giroux 214 pages; $12.95

Her gift was the ability to create characters so vital that they seemed to leap from the page: the ebullient Gigi, skipping through the Tuileries; the elegant and doomed Chéri, in love with a woman twice his age; and Lea, archetype of the older woman, wise, but not yet wizened by age and experience. But Colette's greatest invention was Colette, the country girl who conquered Paris and captured life itself.

Oddly enough, though she died in 1954 at age 81, a good Colette biography has still...

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