FRENCH LANGUAGE EDITION
Claudine at School (French: Claudine à l'école) is a 1900 novel by the French writer Colette. The narrative recounts the final year of secondary school of 15-year-old Claudine, her brazen confrontations with her headmistress, Mlle Sergent, and her fellow students. It was Colette's first published novel, originally attributed to her first husband, the writer Willy. The work is assumed to be highly autobiographical, and includes lyrical descriptions of the Burgundian countryside, where Colette grew up.
Claudine, a fifteen-year-old girl, lives in Montigny, with her father, who is more interested in mollusks than his daughter. Claudine attends the small village school, which is the primary location of her many adventures, presented as an intimate journal. The journal begins with the new school year, marked by the arrival of the new headmistress, Miss Sergent, and her assistant, Miss Aimée Lanthenay, as well as the boys' instructors, Mr. Duplessis and Mr. Rabastens. Although Claudine begins an affair early on with Miss Lanthenay, Miss Sergent soon discovers the liaison and discourages Miss Lanthenay, ultimately taking her on as her own lover. Claudine feels betrayed and causes trouble for the two women with the help of her friends, cynical Anaïs and childlike Marie Belhomme. Miss Lanthenay's sister Luce arrives at school, and Claudine mistreats her, but Luce idolizes Claudine nonetheless. Some major events of the school year documented in the novel are the final exams, the opening of the new school, and a ball to mark the visit of an important political minister to the town.
At the end of the book, everyone is at the ball when Miss Sergent's mother suddenly throws a man's shoe downstairs into the parlor from the living quarters upstairs. Everyone is silent downstairs as the elder Sergent yells at her daughter for disgracing the family by sleeping with the superintendent of the school district. Miss Sergent's attraction to the man had been mentioned earlier by Claudine, who dismissed it when Sergent steals Aimee away from her. Publicly humiliated, Miss Aimee runs off crying while Luce and Claudine laugh.