Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette was this century's first modern woman. She arrived in Paris around 1900 as the provincial child bride of a notorious rake and brilliant literary impressario, Willy, who signed her first novels, the Claudines, as his own. They invented the erotically reckless teenage girl as we know her, and became the greatest French bestsellers of all time. When this tumultuous marriage ended, Colette went off with a high-born woman lover, the virile Marquise de Belboeuf, and embarked on a flamboyant stage career. She bared her breast to raucous applause in the French music-hall and became a celebrity of the lesbian demimonde. Until her death in 1954, she continued to rewrite the rules for loving, working, and aging. At the end of the century, her life and work still have the power to challenge the norms.
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