The Ripening Seed

by Colette

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The title of this book foreshadows the coming-of-age story. The Ripening Seed is the story of childhood friends who blossom into more. Philippe and Vinca spend their summers together on the Brittany Coast. At the start of the novel they are young and innocent. Their playfulness is unabashed and unassuming. However, eventually their childish friendship takes a turn towards love and romance. Vinca is written complexly and with dual personalities. She is at times young and shy. At other moments she is a knowledgable and wise for her age. She yearns for Philippe’s attention which tends to come and go. He is seduced by an older woman in town. This sends him into a tail spin as he balances his desire for experience with his love for Vinca.

This story has garnered some criticism for its lack of focus on female sexuality. Philippe is given multiple love interests and opportunities. He philosophically considers his own desires and is given the space to question his own wants. However, Vinca is nearly written out of the story after Philippe has his affair. Her sadness is briefly alluded to but otherwise forgotten. This shift in the book is frustrating as it seems from the beginning that each character will be given equal time. The plot twist is furthered by the dreary and ghostly depictions of the coast. The fog and damp air build upon the impending sense that love may not win in this young, turmoiled relationship.

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