Thursday, October 28, 2010

Le vagabond

Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, author of The Vagabond

I'm on a bit of a book bender this week. Our order of books has arrived from the Book Depository and I'm sinking my teeth into The Vagabond by Colette. Celebrating it's hundredth year, this classic novel is so rich in period detail it's like jumping in a time machine and finding yourself in Paris with a glass of absinthe in one hand and a Gitane (Frenchy cigarette) in the other, smack bang in the middle of les Ann√©es Folles or 'The Crazy Years'. Loosely based on the experiences of the author, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette.The Vagabond tells the story of 33 year old Renee Nere - a once renowned author who divorces her wealthy, philandering husband and makes her own way as a vaudeville performer in the Dance Halls of Paris circa 1910.

"Beneath the greenish gas, my street at this hour is a creamy mess of burnt almond, mocha brown, and caramel yellow, a desert that has caved in and melted, with the nougat of the building stones floating on top."


Now imagine what her apartment might have looked like? 

I came across this story a couple of months ago. A Paris apartment lays untouched for more than 70 years. Originally owned by actress Marthe de Florian and later lived in by her granddaughter, the apartment is closed up just before the start of the second world war when the owner moved to the south of France. The apartment remained unopened until her death in June this year. When the estate auctioneers were brought in to catalog the place, this is what they found.

Louis Chairs, oriental rugs, gilt mirrors, hand screened wallpapers.....gasp

Look at all those paintings and the tableware

Micky Mouse, Embroidered Silk and a taxidermy Ostrich, brilliant!

and the painting of Marthe de Florian by Giovani Boldini that originally caused all the fuss. This painting recently sold for $2.9 million.

I hope that they don't sell this apartment or doing anything to it. I would love to be able to go and see it for myself. I wonder if the French have a National Trust? For now though, I will have to let Colette guide my imagination.

1 comment:

Thanks ever so for taking the time to say hi!


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