Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Lonval town house. Home of Lèa de Lonval on the Avenue Bugeaud in Paris. Although this novel is named after the handsome young gigolo known as Chéri, the character of the forty-nine-year-old courtesan Lèa de Lonval is its true heart. Lèa has been a triumphant success as a frivolous woman, whose many lovers validated her desirability. She has devoted herself entirely to her own beauty, to a life of pleasure, and to running her well-appointed and charming house. Much of the novel deals simply with the sensuous joys of Lèa’s love affair with her far younger lover, Chéri, whom she takes under her wing, making her home a pleasure-palace devoted to his whims. Lèa’s beautiful home, however, is already getting to be old-fashioned. When Lèa surveys her bedroom, the hub of her universe, she realizes that its ostentatious, over-decorated luxury, especially its large brass-and-iron bed, is rapidly becoming out-of-date. As her bedroom is dated, so too her ornate mirror also tells her that she is growing old, that her time as a great beauty is over. Lèa knows that times are changing, and that things will not always be as they are. Chéri himself, suffocated by Lèa’s devotion and beginning to feel the difference in their ages, leaves her establishment for good at the end of the novel, fleeing as if Lèa’s pleasure-palace has become a prison.
*Neuilly (noh-YEE). Countrified suburb of Paris, where Chéri’s mother and fellow courtesan Charlotte Peloux lives. Like her friend and rival Lèa, Charlotte has made her love life into a profitable venture, but her opulent home has none of the aura of warmth, generosity, or sensuality associated with Lèa’s house in Paris.
*Normandy. Region of France bounded on the north by the English Channel. During summers here, Lèa fattens the pasty-faced and underweight Chéri on corn-fed chicken, cream, and strawberries, and gives him boxing lessons, transforming him gradually into a robust young man.