Friday, July 29, 2016

Ms. Hen reviews GIGI and THE CAT

Mikki reading THE CAT with Ms. Hen

By Colette
1944, 1933
Penguin Books
GIGI translated by Roger Senhouse THE CAT translated by Antonia White

Ms. Hen decided to read this book on a whim, because she had heard of Colette, and wanted to learn more about her writing. She looked up what is considered the best book by the author and found GIGI, along with THE CAT.

Ms. Hen was charmed by GIGI; she thinks the story is sweet, but difficult at the same time. It is about a family of women who do not marry. They have lovers and men who take care of them, but they are not the type to settle down. It’s difficult to discern what the philosophy behind the story is, but Ms. Hen thinks that the grandmother and the aunt and mother don’t want Gigi to get married because they don’t want her to be different from them. They want her to be pleasing to men, and they want her to understand her place in the world.

Ms. Hen thinks that Gigi’s transformation in the story is upsetting. The grandmother wants her to be kept by Gaston, but Gigi doesn’t want to be like the other women in the family. It seems to Ms. Hen that Gigi doesn’t have much say in what she does with her life. She can either get married or be a woman who does not marry. Ms. Hen thinks this is depressing, but she realizes that Gigi lived in different times. She didn’t have the option of getting an education and doing something important with her life or doing anything with her life other than having it revolve around a man, or several men.

Ms. Hen knew that GIGI was also a film from the 1950s, so she decided to watch it after she read the book. The movie made Ms. Hen uncomfortable. In the beginning, a man who is not a character in the story sings a song called, “Thank Heaven for Little Girls,” which Ms. Hen thinks is perverted. Ms. Hen thought the whole film was disgusting, it is an elongated version of the short story, but the difference is in the movie, Gigi actually loves Gaston. In the story Gigi had too much sense to fall for a fool like Gaston, but she knew what was important. Ms. Hen says no to the film, but a hesitant maybe to the story.

Ms. Hen has different ideas about THE CAT. This story is about a young couple, Alain and Camille, who are about to get married and Alain owns a cat named Saha. He loves his cat more than anything, but when he gets married the cat isn’t able to come live with them because they are staying in a small apartment. The cat gets depressed, and stops eating and loses weight because Alain leaves her, so he takes her to the apartment. Camille is jealous of Saha. Ms. Hen can’t imagine a woman being upset because her husband loves a cat. Ms. Hen thinks Camille is envious because she has nothing else to do with her days: she does not work, she doesn’t have any friends, she simply sits at home and waits for Alain to come home so they could spend time together.

Ms. Hen does not think that the story of THE CAT could happen in today’s society because women have better things to do than become jealous over a cat. But it’s an important story because it shows how women’s lives used to be, spending time waiting for a man to come home and hating the cat that shares his affections. Women love cats most of the time because they are delicate and feminine and mysterious like women, and they can be our co-conspirators.

Ms. Hen reads classics because she likes to learn about and be angry at the way the world used to be. These stories are entertaining, but they show a time and place where Ms. Hen does not live, and she’s glad she does not. One of the good things about this book is that it is very short, so reading about the women suffering in these stories does not take too long.

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