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Ripening Seed by Colette



Book Reviews (Adult)

Ripening Seed by Colette
Published by Penguin, 1959

This novel, translated from French, is set during summertime in Brittany. Vinca and Philippe are childhood friends who are awakening to their sexuality and desire. The theme centres around their development from childhood to adulthood and how each becomes torn by their two selves. At times they want to remain as children, and in other situations they want to be treated as adults.

The story concerns the affair of Philippe, aged 16, with an older woman, and how the consequences of this affair affect the balance of his other relationships, particularly with his childhood sweetheart, Vinca. Mme Dalleray who is lonely and her life empty, seduces him initially. Towards the end of the novel, when knowledge of his affair comes to light, Vinca herself seduces Philippe. Both seductions make clear the sordid nature of the sex, though this is portrayed in the novel without vulgarity. Throughout the novel, the connections between sex, desire and power are strongly intertwined.

The novel is slow-moving and the characters are vague, such that the reader may feel completely detached. However, the author’s description of the natural world is magnificent and shines through the story she tells. Members of the book club feel that perhaps in translation the romantic element to the actual story may have been lost.

Reviewed by Newmarket-on-Fergus Library bookclub.

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