Books: Vagabond of the Heart

A biography captures the charm, lust and joie de vivre of Colette

As she lay dying on her Paris daybed at age 81, Colette, so rarely at a loss for words, spoke her final one. "Regarde!" she said, sweeping her arm through the air. It is hard to imagine a more apt pronouncement, for by the time of her death in 1954, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette had lived, loved, rebelled and certainly seen more than most. And in six decades of writing, she also conveyed what she witnessed to thousands of readers, producing some 80 volumes of fiction, essays, memoirs and drama that made her one of France's most beloved authors.

Love, she once said,...

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