Classic Book Club...with a difference
embers met over lunch at the High Wycombe Tavern to talk about "Claudine at School" by lauded French writer Colette (1873-1954) who, after a lengthy court battle, was able to claim the Claudine series of novels as her own, not those of her former husband, Henry Gauthier-Villars, who turned the key in her room to force her to write. In today's world 15-year-old Claudine would be considered a bully. She is attractive and clever, "the smartest girl in the school and more than a match for her formidable headmistress as they vie for the attention of the pretty assistant Aimee." Her father is an absent-minded professor wholly engaged in his research, who knows absolutely nothing about parenting a young girl; she is basically raising herself. "Speaking with a voice wiser than her years, Claudine is a critical observer; she is trying to come to terms with her attraction to women and the attention she is receiving from men. She acts like she despises all her classmates, but in truth she knows she will miss them." The novel was published in 1900. It was an easy read. School in the 50s and 60s was never like that!