I read this book in readiness for a group discussion. There are lots of positive reviews around so clearly many readers find much to enjoy here. I have never rated a book one star before.
The basic plot is very straightforward (and as it was on cover of my edition I don't think the story is meant to be the point): 25 year old Chéri (real name Fred), the son of a wealthy courtesan, has been in a long term relationship with 49 year old Léa, a friend of his mother. Chéri gets married, stops seeing Léa, misses her, and goes back to her. There's a bit more to it but that's it in a nutshell.
The story is described in a deadpan manner, all surface and appearance. There is no reference to the characters' emotions or inner lives. There's not even any sex scenes - not that I wanted any, I just wondered if this was part of the book's appeal. It reminded me of a sumptuous soft focus television advert for chocolates where wafty material is gently blown by the breeze from an open window, whilst glamorous, smug, well dressed characters lounge around. This is luxury's disappointment writ large - a joyless, shallow, petty place where spoiled characters occupy boudoirs, wear silk and satin, pearls and call servants, whilst boring themselves and each other - and it left me waving the white flag at page 64 (of a total of 122). Despite being mercifully short I still couldn't get through it.
I now know I have no interest in the pre-World War 1 Parisian demimonde. As I stated, many readers rate this book highly, however there was nothing here for me.