Allan Massie’s most recent novel is Nero’s Heirs. (February 2000)

IN THE REVIEW

La Vagabonde

Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette

by Judith Thurman

Creating Colette Volume I: From Ingenue to Libertine, 1873-1913

by Claude Francis and Fernande Gontier
There are writers whose essence may be suggested by a single phrase or sentence from their work—Kipling, Hemingway, Eliot for instance. Colette (1873-1934) is another such writer. “Ces plaisirs qu’on nomme, à la légère, physiques”—“these pleasures lightly called physical.” The sentence appears first in her novel of adolescent love, Le …