Paris in July: The Ripening Seed by Colette

The flowers to the right are sea-holly, a flower I have never seen before, possessing a blue which are the exact color of Vinca’s eyes. Yet Phil does not pick them for her, the girl that he has loved for as long as they both can remember.

He picks them instead for Mme Dallery, the Lady-in-white, the enchantress who seduces sixteen year old Philippe by first inviting him in to her home for orangeade. He feels he must reciprocate the hospitable gesture, and so he picks a bouquet of sea-holly to present to her. But then how quickly his innocence, his childhood, the unwavering trust given him by Vinca, is changed forever.

What would summer be without a love story, a beach, a novel translated from French? This little book is a mere 122 pages; you could read it in one evening as I have. But it carries the impact of Madame Bovary, another French novel of several hundred more pages, in which love is lost at the machinations of another.

Colette shows us how quickly the transformation to adulthood can take place, for after this particular summer neither Philippe nor Vinca will ever be the same.

Le Ble en Herbe, translated from the French as The Ripening Seed, was written by Colette in 1923. I have read it especially for Paris in July, so glad that I have, because nothing satisfies me in quite the same way as a classic does.

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22 thoughts on “Paris in July: The Ripening Seed by Colette

    • I’ve only read this little one, and last year I finished Stendhal’s The Red and The Black! I’m woefully behind as well, in what I had hoped to read for Paris in July by now.

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  1. What a wonderful review! Of course, with Colette being the author it was to be expected. I became her fan reading The Cat for review on my blog and following up with a collection of stories including her famous Gigi. Thanks for drawing my attention to another one of her short novels. I’ll see if I can get a free ebook – since the original French editions are in the public domain, it shouldn’t be much of a problem. 🙂

    LaGraziana @ Edith’s Miscellany

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    • I know Colette is most famous for Gigi, a work I have not read or seen on film. You shouldn’t have trouble finding this little
      book; I happened to pick it up from a Used Book Shelf at our library as not many people seem interested in classics. Besides us!

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      • Yes, it’s sad to see how little interested the average reader seems to be in the classics… as if it hurt to read something written in another period! Or maybe it evokes too many reminiscences of school? I don’t know. Certainly, there are classics that are outdated, but those that are still widely remembered use to be timeless.

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  2. I haven’t read anything by Colette, that I remember. My high school French teacher assigned me lots of French literature on the side, but he probably didn’t include her novels 🙂 Maybe this one, short as it is, would be a good one for me to start with.

    The sea holly caught my eye right away, because I rightly guessed that it is the flower that was used for corsages and boutonnieres for my son’s Scottish-themed wedding, to mimic Scottish thistles. It’s like a romanticized, idealized version of a thistle!

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    • My high school French teacher had is read Le Petit Prince and Candide, neither of which I did an astounding job of interpreting at seventeen years of age. Still, it was good to be exposed to those important works, and I wish I could still read them in French.

      As for the sea-holly, thank you for taking my knowledge of them even further. I’m sure they made gorgeous flowers for the wedding, as they are not only beautiful but appear durable as well. Our flower girls swatted their bouquets everywhere til there were practically no flowers left at all!

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    • Isn’t that a Zola novel? At least that’s what’s in my head when I hear “Nana”. Good luck with finishing it in a timely manner. Sometimes I just can’t read quickly myself, not that that’s the goal.

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  3. Your review seems to capture Colette’s appeal. I haven’t read that book, should try it.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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  4. Your presentation reminded me of Bonjour Tristesse by Sagan, which I reread with my 9th and 10th graders for the extra-curricular French classes… and still, Collette was not on my list in high school or college, but I will look into this writer 🙂

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    • Exactement! This reminded me very much of Bonjour Tristesse as well, a book I read for Paris in July a few years ago. They have the same components of youth and love and all the manipulations that can occur with those two givens.

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  5. What a simple, elegant and enticing review. Wish I had more time to read some of the great recommendations coming out of Paris in July this year. Thank you.

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    • Well, at least the links and reviews give us suggestions for next year (and the rest of this one). 😉 Thanks, as always, for hosting this event, Tamara.

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  6. I’m off to see a one-woman play about Collette on Thursday. I don’t know anything about it except it was listed on the half-price ticket website at a very cheap price. I may end up reading some Collette afterwards.

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    • A very cheap price sounds like you can’t go wrong! I haven’t known anything about her before reading this book, which I thoroughly enjoyed, so I hope your experience at the play is a good one, too.

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  7. I had high hopes of participating in the Paris in July event, but I’m only just now catching up on emails and bills after a wonderful vacation to the Oregon/Washington coast. Our granddaughter flew home yesterday and it’s far too quiet (and a bit lonely) now that she’s gone. She is such a dear girl and I enjoy her companionship more and more with each passing year.

    Anyhow, I’m hardly reading a thing, so I think I’ll skip the Paris in July event this year. I couldn’t possible squeeze even one book in during the next week, so we’ll see what’s in store for next July. Hopefully, we’ll be in the middle of a move to the West Coast!

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  8. Pingback: 2016 in Review – Dolce Bellezza

  9. Pingback: Books Read in 2016 – Dolce Bellezza

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