Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Unfulfilled Dreams

I have recently finished yet another biography 'Colette's France her lives, her loves' by Jane Gilmour.  As I expected, I loved it.  She lived a rich and full (even greedy) life, and didn't let anything get in her way.  She was a writer, an actor, a mime, a gardener, a lover of cats, a reader...

Some of her life was scandalous, think multiple and sometimes lesbian affairs, or appearing half-naked on stage.  Some of it was difficult.  I have, and cherish many of her books and knew some, but not all of her background.

I disliked her treatment of her mother, and even more her treatment of her daughter.  The only affair she had which caused me discomfort was the three year affair she had with her step-son.  While still married to his father.

The book was comprehensive, very readable and the photographs of places she lived in and loved filled me with envy.


Just the same, it is not the photographs or Colette's life which will stay with me.

A tiny snippet about her father haunts me.

'He also aspired to be a writer.  On the top shelf of the library was a row of books, inscribed with his handwritten titles.  But inside each one there was not a word, apart from a dedication to his wife.'

Unlike Edith Piaf, I do have regrets.  And most of them relate to things I haven't done rather than those I have.  To spend an entire life yearning to not only write but to have a thing of beauty to dedicate to his lover and yet to achieve nothing struck me as incredibly sad.  Did he have the talent?  His daughter certainly did, but he died long before her writing was recognised and applauded.  Would that have helped - or made it worse for him?
A sadness.

101 comments:

  1. I know very little about Colette other than, I think, she wrote Gigi. She sounds like a true free spirit, someone who catered to her whims, and who preferred instant gratification rather enjoying the anticipation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carol Kilgore: She certainly did prefer instant (and repeated) gratitification. Interestingly, if she had been a man her life choices would have attracted much less criticism. I don't think, for example, she did anything her first husband didn't.

      Delete
  2. That's truly sad about the father. I do think that type of thing happens more often than not, although not to the extent of making phony books as props. I'd classify that as perhaps suffering from a mental illness. It does seem to be so with his daughter. She sounds like she did extraordinary things and lived life to the fullest but, at the same time, ran roughshod over other people and their sensibilities and feelings. I'd say she was a user who stood on other people's backs to see the view. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. River Fairchild: Her first husband certainly used and abused her - and I think she pretty much adopted the tactic of 'hit back - first' for the rest of her life. She led a rich and busy life, and I admire her writing immensely - but don't think I would have wanted her in my life.

      Delete
  3. Oh my, that does sound like a juicy book!

    We all have regrets, but each one can teach us a lesson. The key though is to use it and move on. We can't let regrets lead us to despair.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe: How right you are. And despair is a pit I would prefer to avoid.

      Delete
  4. Replies
    1. Bob Bushell: About a 'bad' woman.

      Delete
    2. There is a great line, "Good women don't make history."

      Delete
    3. Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe: Unless they are very, very good women. Mother Teresa types. Love that line.

      Delete
  5. Don't you think that if he were truly committed to writing, he would have actually made the effort. Who knows if it was his own desire or one put into his mind by others. To not have written a word says to me that it really wasn't that important to him.

    I think I know as much as I need to know about Collette, having read your review. I don't judge, but I do choose to read things that I am comfortable with and I doubt that I would be with this book. I am, as we speak, however, reading "Trooper's Run" at your suggestion. I will tell you more of how I feel about it when I am finished, but suffice it to say ... I am loving that you suggested it already :) Be well, my friend ...

    Andrea @ From the Sol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrea: I don't know what happened to Colette's father. In many ways he faced a difficult life and this dream was one he just never filled. Perhaps he liked the idea of being a writer more than the work? Perhaps he felt inadequate. Perhaps he was inadequate.

      Delete
    2. Andrea ... so glad to see that you do like it so far! ~ Cindi

      Delete
  6. I have a pile of books to read, and then a bunch of electronic squiggles that constitute even more books in my Kindle, so I'll skip this one. But I did enjoy your review of it. How sad about her father. We will never know what the truth was, but I like to think he just never quite got around to writing them. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DJan: I also have a pile of books to read. And some electronic squiggles (on the PC - no kindle here). Sigh. And I keep getting tempted.

      Delete
  7. I know who Colette is but that is all. Interesting what you have shared. I wish I were a more adventurous type but then...it means some heartache away from safety! It is all a trade off I guess.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bookie: I am not adventurous either. Which (mostly) suits me. But yes, a trade off.

      Delete
  8. I might look for Gilmour's book...it's years since I read anything by or about Colette.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. dinahmow: I suspect that the photos of France throughout the book will lure you in too. Some very, very beautiful places. Many of which now trade on her name...

      Delete
  9. I read about Colette many years ago, but I can recall little.

    Think of her father like this. He had a dream, to write. While he didn't, he kept alive the wonderful dream that he would. He may well have been mentally composing his first paragraph while on his death bed, .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrew: I hope he was. But my negative self doubts it.

      Delete
  10. I know just what you mean about the feeling of sadness in your example. And you have made me want to read this book, so I shall do. An absolutely cracking book review. Thank you dear :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All Consuming: A review in which I focus on two sentences that aren't about the subject? You are as peverse as I am. Which I love.

      Delete
  11. She sounds like her life was just what she wanted it to be no holding back but dad never took off at all, now that was disappointing but very safe.

    Merle.................

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Merlesworld: Sadly her father's life wasn't all that safe either. War, amputated leg, poverty... And unfulfilled dreams.

      Delete
  12. I am so often of these people, especially women who live out loud. I am not at all daring and rarely take risks. My heart relates to her father.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yes, the 'larger-than-life' types do get a lot of praise for doing their own thing regardless, Regardless of how much hurt they cause others. Was Collette brave and trailblazing or just a monumentally selfish narcissist? I think she would have been a very difficult person to live with or to have as a family member.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lynners: A very, very difficult woman to live with. Or to love. Certainly a driven woman.

      Delete
  14. That is actually a sad thought ... empty books with only a title and dedication. I'm sure he had words he hoped one day to fill them with ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Letting the Words Escape: And Colette didn't realise it was a dream of his until long after he died. Perhaps because she was selfish, perhaps because he hid it. A sadness either way.

      Delete
  15. Hi human, Sue,

    I am going to ask Gary to check out that book. A book of raw emotion twinged with sadness. She seemed to be a complicated lady with a stubborn streak.

    Pawsitive wishes,

    Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar! :

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. klahanie: Dear Penny, complicated is an understatement. Perhaps when Gary is feeling stronger.
      Look after each other...

      Delete
  16. Most of our lives are complex, unfulfilled in some way and filled with regrets of the things we did not do but also full of good things. That, after all, is life and life is a blessing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Arija: Yes, most lives (and mine certainly) are a messy mix. Just the same, I did grieve for a dream left so comprehensively unfilled.

      Delete
  17. i have already seen my children (in their teens) progress closer to their dreams than i think i have managed in 40 odd years and it is a very bittersweet thing.
    ultimately i am pleased for them more than sad for myself.

    i think it takes courage to live larger than life and we all get what is coming to us: if we are totally narcissistic we get our achievements but maybe nobody to walk beside us, if we dont pursue our dreams we live with safety but never know what might have been

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. kylie: Colette did get people to walk beside her. Lots of people. With replacements/back ups always there. Which surprised me a little.
      I am glad that your children are fulfilling their dreams - and know that yours are still continuing too. Which is great.

      Delete
  18. An interesting review indeed. I haven't read anything by Colette, but I did know a little bit about her. I don't think I would have liked her, but you've made me want to read this book, EC. You clinched it with your mention of the beautiful photos; I'm hoping to go to France next year, so I could start planning an itinerary...

    I hope things are well with you, your garden, the gorgeous Jazz and Jewel, and your beautiful avian visitors!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alexia: I think the author loved Collete's France nearly as much as she loved, and was fascinated by Colette.
      We are all muddling along. The garden has sufferered, but Jazz n Jewel haven't. Naturally.

      Delete
  19. My God, you talk about keeping it all in the family! Was she related to Dickens? Reading her fiction, you definitely get the sense that she was self-centered.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Riot Kitty: Tacky wasn't it? Or I think so. I suspect she and Dickens would NOT have got along. Too many egos in the room.

      Delete
  20. Interesting. I love reading book reviews; it helps me decide whether to read them or not, and there are SO MANY books to decide about!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. jenny_o: So many books, so little time. I know I will never finish, but I am going to keep trying. And trying.

      Delete
  21. That sounds like a very interesting, intriguing read. Gigi may not have been as innocent, sweet and pure as depicted in the movie, perhaps.... ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lee: I don't think that any of Colette's characters are innocent or pure. Or not for long anyway. I haven't seen the movie, but given that Gigi was in training as a courtesan, her innocence would have beens short-lived.

      Delete
  22. Very interesting. Sounds like a must read!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sienna Smythe: I don't know that I will reread it - though I will look at the photos - but I was glad to have read it.

      Delete
  23. I often think that I'm going to look back with regret about all the things I haven't done that I dreamed I would.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LL Cool Joe: Me too. But perhaps we still both have time to achieve some of them...

      Delete
  24. I think you're right. It is very sad to have a whole row of books with nothing but a title and dedication.
    I don't think that book is one for me. I don't agree with people jumping in and out of multiple beds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. River: I thought she was at best self-indulgent, and sometimes cruel in her choices of bed partners.

      Delete
  25. Colette is such a pretty name. This book sounds intriguing. Thanks for the great review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DeniseinVA: An intriguing life - which I am glad that I am not living.

      Delete
  26. Fascinating.
    And, they say one shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but, I find this cover irresistibly beautiful. And it sounds like the interior photos are equally so.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vicki: Sometimes the cover is the only way to judge. And there are certainly covers which ensure I leave a book on the shelf...

      Delete
  27. the only regret I have is the things I haven't done or have yet to do; lets get moving on those, hey?

    ReplyDelete
  28. Regrets? Non, je ne regrette rien! Nah, only kidding. I could fill a thousand books with regrets, as could many people I suspect.

    What a great review and you've once again piqued my interest and spurred me to take a look at the book, which I will do. She ceratinly sounds like a person who could manipulate the media to believe anything about her that suited her intentions at the time. I suspect today that she'd thrive in the age of Twitter and reality tv! That said, her books are ageless and her observations spot on. I'd love to have a greater understanding of the forces that drove her.

    I'm always a bit wary of reading biographies of people I admire - chances are that you find out unpalatable things about them that can alter your views. I had such a revelation with Enid Blyton, whose books I adored as a child, but who turned out to be a bit of a nutter and not at all the jolly, mothering type I had imagined. L-G had the same epiphany with Steve Jobs' biography. A man who he had admired from a business and design perspective turned out to be a totally unlikeable person, devoid of any moral fibre whatsoever. He was shocked at just how ghastly the man was in real life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marie: How right you are. She would have thrived with Twitter. As would her first husband. A war of tweets.
      It was interesting just how unmotherly Enid Blyton was, wasn't it? I can (mostly) separate writers from the often extreme messiness of their lives. Business people I would find more difficult. I'll have to think about that.

      Delete
  29. If that is actually her picture on the book she looks like a brat and apparently acted like one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Delores: I think that photo was a publicity shoot, so she cannot really be blamed for it, though some of her behaviour was less than stellar. Great writer though.

      Delete
  30. I just read a quote that said, "Ignoring your passion is a slow suicide. Never ignore what your heart pumps for. Mold your career around your lifestyle, not your lifestyle around your career." (Unknown author) ---

    This book sounds amazing. You know, I'm not sure if it would have helped the father to see his daughter succeed in doing something he longed to do for so many years. Would he have praised her, or would he have resented her for (in a roundabout way) "stealing" his dream? I know a few people who felt that way once their own child succeeded in the one thing (dream) they didn't. Strange how people work. So, it my opinion, maybe it would have been a disaster to see her fulfill that passion.

    It also reminds me of Van Gogh. He was a businessman and quit his job to follow his passion. Of course, he didn't succeed until he was dead.

    And for myself, I have worked at various jobs, from accounting in IBM to technical support at an internet and phone company -- made great money -- decided that it just wasn't fulfilling to sit all day in a small cubicle wishing my life away. "Is Friday here yet?" I made my writing my career, even when I didn't make a bit of money from it. I still don't make much from it, but I appreciate everything that has come from it. My life. My passion.

    Sometimes it's all about the heart and a life lived well.

    I really loved this post. This hit my heart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deb: Thank you. I wondered too whether her success would have made him happy or not. And leaned towards thinking it might have made him bitter and despairing. Another of the things we will never know.
      I love that you have chosen to live your passion.

      Delete
  31. Her life seems parallel to so many who are famous. I wonder if it's the fame that leads to the carelessness (in so many areas), or the carelessness that leads to the fame. :) In any case, I'm sure it was never boring to read the biography.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. mail4rosey: You are right. Many famous people do lead very messy lives. Though I suspect we just hear more about them. And no, it isn't a boring biography. At all.

      Delete
  32. I read a VERY thick book about Colette. (about 700 pages)

    I was fascinated & LOVE her writing! xxxx Kiss for you, dear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My Inner Chick: Her writing is amazing isn't? Elegant and often understated. But powerful.

      Delete
  33. Wow! You always have so many comments, Ms EC! You are very much loved, I'd say! Thanks for the great book review. It certainly sounds like a good read...but I find that I can't concentrate on books much right now, nor have I for too long of a time. I'm sure it has to do with MY writing and my busy schedule...but that's no excuse. I intend to fit more reading into my life SOON! I loved Delores' comment that she looked like a brat! LOL. I apologize for not stopping by sooner, and more often. I keep trying to catch up....but it's like running on a treadmill....I really don't get anywhere! Hugs to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. BECKY: You are welcome just as often as you find your way over here. And I well understand how busy you are. (Now get back to that sequel.) I am very, very lucky with the people who I have found here in the blogosphere. And appreciate them all. Hugs back.

      Delete
  34. the biog does not mention how her legless dad finished up? I have her on my Pinterest board as a teenager with really really long plaits. There are films of 7 of her books. the most recent has Michelle Pfeiffer and Anita Pallenberg - 2009 I think. Biogs are the best reading. x x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ann ODyne: The book skims over her father pretty much. He had one leg (I think). Weren't those plaits incredible - her mother was apparently FURIOUS when she cut them off. And yes, biogs (particularly autobiogs) are wonderful.

      Delete
  35. I try my best to not have regrets, though that's not always possible of course. But I really think that everything that has happened, or has not happened, was meant to happen or meant to not happen. Does that make sense? I think I just confused even myself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Optimistic Existentialist: Welcome - and I do like your monicker. Yes, it made complete sense. I do have regrets though. Human nature?

      Delete
  36. so much we can learn from the lives of those who came before,
    especially if they did the hard work of writing it down for us to find.
    i think deathbed regrets must be especially heavy
    for those who didn't put whatever their pen was
    to the proverbial paper life spread out for them.
    i nudges me out of my comfort zone.
    thanks for helping do that for me.....inspired again:)
    -Jennfier

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jennifer Richardson: Another one who felt the sadness with me. Thank you. Your comment repeated itself several times, so I will delete the extras.

      Delete
  37. Wow, it sounds like she lived life to the full. I like that kind of life. Thanks for the review.

    Greetings from London.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A Cuban in London: To the full - and then some.

      Delete
  38. So what era are we speaking of Sue? And was she Australian?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carol in Cairns: She was born in 1873 and died in 1954. French to her fingertips - though the author of this book is an Australian.

      Delete
  39. I read a few Colette books when I was young and liked them - they were a picture of life in a different world but she was also quite pereceptive about relationships. This would be a good read I'm sure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jacki K: It is years since I have read her, despite still having many of her books. It is time I went back - and yes, she was very perceptive about relationships. Interesting, given how messy hers were.

      Delete
  40. Your mention of regrets reminded me of Mark Twain's quote, which I'm sure you know: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Let's keep sailing ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kim: Let us keep sailing indeed. Or, preferably, flying. Thanks.

      Delete
  41. This is so interesting and sheds light on an author I have not read, but always meant to. So sad that her father didn't ever actually write - I wonder what stories where in his head?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lynn: I don't think she knew what stories were in his head - so he obviously kept his dreams close to his chest. Sad isn't it?

      Delete
  42. It's heartbreaking that her father went to his grave without even trying to pursue his dream. Maybe it was a fear of failure that kept him from writing a book, but to me, the only real failure is that he didn't try. It's an interesting question as to whether he would have been happy his daughter had a successful writing career, or if he would have been jealous. I'd like to think he would have been happy for her and felt a sense of vicarious success, but I kinda think it would have made him sad, thinking of what might have been, if he'd only had the courage to try.

    Sounds like an interesting book about a bigger-than-life (if only in her own mind) talent.

    But... you've NEVER seen "Gigi"??? It's been a lot of years since I saw it, but it used to be one of my favorites.

    Happy weekend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan: I rarely watch movies - and particularly not those of books I have read and loved. The images on the screen don't match those in my head.
      And I agree with you about his failure - but still feel so sorry that he couldn't get the courage/time/whatever to try.
      Happy weekend to you too.

      Delete
  43. That part of her father is haunting - how very sad. What dreams he once had - and why didn't he start to realize them? Or did he and didn't like it? or worse, was discouraged or even ridiculed by others?
    Regrets - it is often regret for something we didn't do. There is a quote by Mark Twain who brought it to the point, and which was our guideline when we had to make the decision whether to move to the States or not. So fr, we never have had any regrets sbout our decision.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carola Bartz: I certainly found it haunting. She achieved such a lot, sometimes despite very real difficulties. And it seems that he missed out on such an important dream. And the why of it will continue to nag at my brain.
      Kim (above) reminded me of the Twain quote which I assume was the impetus for your move. Such a wise man.

      Delete
  44. So many of us have regrets. It is sad indeed. Why could we not be brave and grasp the opportunity of doing what we wanted to do while we had the chance. Colette did, her father didn’t.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Friko: He undoubtedly faced other challenges, and met other dreams but this one slipped from his grasp. Which I sympathise with - I am on the cowardly side myself.

      Delete
  45. HI EC agree with Kim's comments. NO regrets, always follow your dreams. Very sad about her father. Good book review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Margaret Adamson: No regrets is fine in principle, but yes, I do have a couple. I will keep working on it though.

      Delete
  46. And so now I shall feel unashamed of my lurid past prior to my present relationship of 60 years. After revealing all or most of my gadding about in my memoirs, Rosemary was pleased to know it was she who eventually was my final choice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vest: Much better a lurid past than a lurid present. And final choices are so much more flattering than first ones.

      Delete
  47. Her life looks something similar to Isadora Duncan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haddock: Welcome. And now you have me intrigued. I know very little about Isadora Duncan and will have to investigate. Thank you.

      Delete
  48. In the movie Isadora Duncan became strangled by her scarf the end of which became caught up in the spokes of the rear wheels of a sports car. that she was a passenger in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vest: That I knew, but I know next to nothing about her life - an irony to know more about her death than her life.

      Delete