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Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan
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Bonjour Tristesse (1954)

by Françoise Sagan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,561793,492 (3.54)1 / 203
  1. 00
    A Compass Error: A Novel by Sybille Bedford (shaunie)
    shaunie: Both books capture the hedonism and sensuality of Southern France between the wars.
  2. 00
    The Misunderstanding by Irène Némirovsky (caflores)
  3. 00
    The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy (carlym)
    carlym: Similar theme--young girl in France becoming an adult.
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English (60)  French (10)  Swedish (3)  Dutch (3)  Danish (2)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (80)
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
'My love of pleasure seems to be the only consistent side of my character. Is it because I have not read enough?'

This novella tells the story of seventeen-year-old French girl Cecile, who goes on vacation with her father, Raymond and his current mistress, Elsa. Raymond is a widower who has a series of usually short-lived affairs with various women, a fact that Cecile, despite her age, is fully aware of.

Raymond has rented a villa in the south of France for a month of sun and relaxation spending the first days lazing in the sun, eating and drinking. This idyll is interrupted when an old friend of Raymond's dead wife, Anne, joins them. Over the next few days Anne and Raymond fall in love, pushing out Elsa and informing Cecile that they plan to marry. Meanwhile Cecile has become emotionally attached with a twenty-five year old student, Cyril, who is holidaying in a nearby.

Cecile admires Anne but becomes resentful, when as the latter begins to take on the role of mother, by trying to introduce the idea of structure and responsibility into Cecile's 'laissez faire' life. When Anne catches Cecile and Cyril in a state of semi-undress in the woods she also endeavours to prevent Cecile from seeing him by getting her to spend her afternoons studying instead. Instead Cecile rebels and plots to break her father and Anne apart. At Cecile's insistence, Cyril and Elsa, who is still staying in the area despite her rejection, begin masquerading as lovers in the hope of making Raymond so jealous that he will rekindle his affair with Elsa. The plan succeeds but has tragic consequences.

When first published in the 1950's this book was seen as scandalous. Cecile’s family life was regarded as amoral, she appeared more as his girlfriend than her father's daughter but perhaps more shocking for pre-pill France was that Cecile had sex with Cyril simply because she enjoyed the pleasure of it. This was in no small part due to rather sexist view that it was all right for a man to take a lover but women were either chaste or harlots.

The relationships between Cecile and her father and Anne are generally well drawn. The story is written in a matter-of-fact rather than sensual manner. On hot, languorous, days spent on holiday, things just happen. In today's world, this book wouldn't cause much of a sensation. Many people simply wouldn't be shocked that a seventeen-year-old girl could act in this manner. Instead the book evokes an innocent and bygone era. An era when young people were just beginning to seek freedom, personal and sexual, after the constraints imposed by WWII. Consequently, I found this an OK rather than riveting read. Its brevity is definitely a plus point. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Dec 2, 2018 |
17-yo Cecile has spent 2 years living with her widowed father, and the previous decade or so at a convent school. Her father is 40-something, and bounces between women all the time. He loves women, and doesn't care if his daughter sees this behavior. She also smokes in front of him, and he allows her to drink to a bad hangover. Yes, this is France, but really at 17? A hangover after dinner with your dad? This does not sound typical to me. And Cecile isn't typical. She is like a Mean Girl on steroids. She is cruel, and manipulative, and narcissistic. She will hurt people she supposedly cares for just to get her way (but is constantly flip-flopping as to what "her way" is). She is cruel and selfish and somewhat of a sociopath. She claims she regrets things, but then thinks happy thoughts to forget the sad ones.

Cecile is not a nice person. Her age is irrelevant. The author was 18 when this was published, and supposedly it is based on her life. My edition had a section in the back with an author interview and various clips about the book/author from reviews around the world. She does not sound that different from Cecile herself. Selfish, a dangerous driver and party girl. She wrote because it was an easy way to make money. Her interview did not make me like the book more! ( )
  Dreesie | Aug 27, 2018 |
"Up in my room I reasoned with myself for hours on end in an attempt... to discover whether the fear and hostility which Anne inspired in me were justified, or if I were merely a silly, spoilt, selfish girl in a mood of sham independence.” Sagan's felicitous and fervent wording does capture the indulgent, subjective broodings of a hazy, lazy summer afternoon. And the reader may feel a touch of envy of this well-fed and cultured setting. But the adolescent postures and presumptions rarely come to life as characters outside the narrator's mind, and so it’s a surprise for the reader, and indeed not totally clear, when some actual event does happen to one of them. Does her father or lover die, leave, snub her? Her father’s lover? “I had the same feeling as when a receding wave dragged the sand away beneath me. Neither anger nor desire had ever worked so strongly in me as my longing at that moment for utter defeat.” Ravissement, non? ( )
  eglinton | Dec 4, 2017 |
Call me silly, but I'm a sucker for stories about rebellious, laissez-faire teenagers that end in tragedy. Add in the fact that Cecile (the amoral star of the book) is French and was written by an actual French teenager in the 1950s, and I'm hooked. There was nothing too terribly surprising or revolutionary about this book (at least to my 2017 mind), but I still found several passages that were striking, and I can see how this became essential reading for many self-absorbed teenagers around the world. It's funny, when I was reading this, I pictured Jean Seberg as Cecile in my head; it wasn't until the day after I finished the book that I discovered that Jean did, in fact, play Cecile in the movie version. ( )
  kaylaraeintheway | Aug 8, 2017 |
The cover of this translation of Françoise Sagan's classic coming of age tale has a quote that calls it thoroughly immoral. The back of the book tells me that it scandalised 1950s France with the main character's rejection of conventional notions of love.

What was love like in 1950s France, then? What's immoral about finding pleasure in desire and enjoyment in sex?

Sagan was 18 when she wrote the book, and her eye for the transition from youth to adulthood is precise. There is nothing flowery or romantic about her writing, but the book is more beautiful for that. Her style made me think of Fitzgerald, but I liked Sagan more. She brought some Flannery O'Connor to the mix.

Although only a short book, it drew me in completely. I really enjoyed it. ( )
1 vote missizicks | Aug 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sagan, FrançoiseAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ash, IreneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lampo, HubertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Treichl, HelgaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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People/Characters
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Awards and honors
Epigraph
Adieu tristesse
Bonjour tristesse
Tu es inscrite dans les lignes du plafond
Tu es inscrite dans les yeux que j'aime
Tu n'es pas tout à fait la misère
Car les lèvres les plus pauvres te dénoncent
Par un sourire
Bonjour tristesse
Amour des corps aimables
Puissance de l'amour
Dont l'amabilité surgit
Comme un monstre sans corps
Tête désappointée
Tristesse beau visage
- P. Eluard
Dedication
First words
A strange melancholy pervades me to which I hesitate to give the grave and beautiful name of sadness.
Quotations
I visualized a life of degradation and moral turpitude as my ideal.
Last words
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English

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Book description
Cecile leads a hedonistic, frivolous life with her father and his young mistress. On holiday in the South of France, she is seduced by the sun, the sand and her first lover. But when her father decides to remarry, their carefree existence becomes clouded by tragedy.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140278788, Paperback)

The French Riviera: home to the Beautiful People. And none are more beautiful than Cecile, a precocious seventeen-year-old, and her father Raymond, a vivacious libertine. Charming, decadent and irresponsible, the golden-skinned duo are dedicated to a life of free love, fast cars and hedonistic pleasures. But when Raymond decides to marry, he lets loose in Cecile raw, ungovernable impulses to destroy, with tragic consequences. "Bonjour Tristesse" scandalized 1950s France with its portrayal of teenager Cecile, a heroine who rejects conventional notions of love, marriage and responsibility to choose her own sexual freedom.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:51 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Cecile is the spoiled 17-year-old daughter of Raymond, a wealthy Parisian widower vacationing in a villa on the French Riviera. Their pleasure-seeking existence is threatened when Raymond decides to marry Cecile's straitlaced godmother, Anne, who disapproves of the teenager's steamy summer affair.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 014103291X, 0241951569

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