Vinca Ferret, a very attractive fifteen-year-old girl, with beautiful periwinkle blue eyes and long, tanned limbs, has spent every summer of her life in Brittany with her childhood friend, the tautly muscled sixteen-year-old Philippe Audebert. This particular summer, the two teenagers become aware of the change in their relationship and of the sexual undercurrent which pervades their days as they spend time together rambling in the countryside, swimming in the sea and shrimping in the rock pools along the Brittany shoreline. Strongly attracted to one another, both Vinca and Philippe become restless and impatient with waiting for something to happen, and when Philippe meets the glamorous and experienced Madame Camille Dalleray, who looks at him "like a man", he finds himself succumbing to her well-practised charms...
In many ways this is a beautifully described and, in some ways, an involving story, but I have to say that I felt some of the language was rather overwrought and I found it slightly irritating the way the author continually referred to Vinca's periwinkle blue eyes, her slim, tanned limbs and Philippe's slender, tautly muscled body - perhaps if I were a teenager on the brink of a sexual adventure, I might feel differently :-) but I'm not, and don't, and I just found this a little repetitious. That said, there is more to this novel than is apparent from the scenarios played out on the surface of the story (I can't explain further without revealing spoilers) and Colette's visually descriptive language and her wonderful depiction of the Brittany coastline, made me want to dig out my fishing net, tuck my skirt into my knickers, and head for the shore.
Colette's subject is that of the bittersweet ambiguity of love and passion. She can evoke a sense of time and place, intensity of feeling and ruminate upon the complexities of relationships without ever descending into sentimentality or judgement. This short story concerns the maturing love between childhood friends, Vinca and Phillipe.They are on holiday with their respective families on the coast in Brittany when events take a curious turn. No stranger to disappointment in love herself Collete can bring herself to end the tale as we might like, the question remains, what does the future hold for the young couple?
'Ripening Seed' is a superbly rendered tale. So good that it makes me want to revisit her other classic books: 'My Mothers House' and 'My Apprenticeships and Music Hall Sidelights',to name but two of many.
This is colette at her very best..tender , brutal and exotic. The stark Brittany landscape mirrors the painful journey into adulthood for Phil and Vinca , the two childhood sweethearts of the story , while the brooding presence of the sensuous Mme Dalleray casts a shadow over the once ' innocent ' family holiday.
This is a great book, with vivid characters and plenty of moral complexity. It is about the affair of a very young man with an older woman, who uses him yet at the same time reflects the emptiness of her life and her enjoyment of control. You also get a wider view of the consequences of their affair on the delicate balance of his other relationships, particularly with his childhood lover. And the "relations" are handled with extreme dexterity and delicacy, never going for cheap thrills. It is packed with descriptions of sensations and thought, beautifully poetic and dense, requiring re-reading and reflection from the reader. Taken together, it emerges as a subtle and unusually stimulating reading experience. Collette truly was underrated.