Thirty-three years-old and recently divorced, Renée Néré has begun a new life on her own, supporting herself as a music-hall artist. Maxime, a rich and idle bachelor, intrudes on her independent existence and offers his love and the comforts of marriage. A provincial tour puts distance between them and enables Renée, in a moving series of letters and meditations, to resolve alone the struggle between her need to be loved and her need to have a life and work of her own.
"The paradoxes of great literature are those of human nature, and Colette is nothing if not human . . . Accessible and elusive; greedy and austere; courageous and timid; subversive and complacent; scorchingly honest and sublimely mendacious; an inspired consoler and an existential pessimist—these are the qualities of the artist and the woman. It is time to rediscover them."—Judith Thurman, from the Introduction
"The Vagabond, one of the first and best feminist novels ever written, is that rare thing: a great book which is also inspiring."—Erica Jong