La Vagabonde

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Narrated By: Johanna Ward

Duration: 6 hours and 23 minutes

What to expect

Largely autobiographical, La Vagabonde recalls the author’s own years as a dance-hall performer in turn-of-the-century Paris. Colette takes the listener backstage and into the demimonde of Renée Néré, an aging dancer, mime, and failed writer. In a sultry, passionate, and intelligent voice, Renée narrates the story of her romance with an admirer named Maxime. Her struggle is that of a woman who must choose between freedom and love.


Classic fiction, Fiction: general and literary

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“[An] enchanting, sincere, and beautifully constructed novel…[Colette’s] hoarse cry of loss voices the complex anguish of our time.”

New York Times Book Review

“A rousing novel of love and guile, of vulnerability and vituperative wit, of poetry and self-emporwerment, a slim volume scored with little wisdoms, sumptuous descriptions and the ‘heroic vanity’ of an unforgettable cast.”

Guardian (London)

“Renee Nere, the forthright narrator…is a woman in her thirties whose fractured identity is central to her existence. She has written books, divorced her husband, gone on the stage. Yet her hold on her newfound independence is transparently shaky. Struggle as she may, she is torn between the longing for independence and the need for love. It is this, really—the Question of Love—that we soon see commands Renee’s real attention.”

Boston Review

“Ward presents the controlled, but deep, emotion of this woman struggling to release the pain and frustration of an abusive first marriage and to enjoy the almost painfully awkward ardor of her suitor.”