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Bonjour Tristesse AND A Certain Smile by…

Bonjour Tristesse AND A Certain Smile

by Françoise Sagan

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"He's just the type who tries to seduce young girls like me", 7 Aug. 2016

This review is from: Bonjour Tristesse AND A Certain Smile (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Two novellas of some 130p each, transporting the reader to the world of 1950s teens.
My favourite of the two has to be A Certain Smile, in which narrator Dominique is attending the Sorbonne and dating fellow-student Bertrand. But when she is introduced to his Uncle Luc - and his charming wife - she begins to fall for him. The complexities of the situation are well drawn - the guilt towards Luc's wife who has been so friendly and generous to her, and her not entirely resolved feelings towards Bertrand, whom she still likes.... Sagan does a convincing job of describing the heartbreak that goes with being let down in love.

Bonjour Tristesse is set on the French Riviera. The seventeen year old narrator, Cecile, is one of the idle rich, spending the summer in a villa with her beloved father, a charming widower who has a succession of mistresses. While Cecile is enjoying herself with Papa, his latest lady-friend Elsa, and the handsome Cyril staying nearby, her father makes an unexpected announcement: he has invited Anne Larsen to stay with them. A sophisticated, educated friend of Cecile's late mother, she soon displaces Elsa in her father's affections and Cecile realises their laid-back, partying lifestyle is going to come to an end. Unless she can launch a plot to get Elsa back...

Quite amazing to think these stories were written by a teenager. If the plotlines sound like mere chick-lit, I must say here and now that they are far more than that , thoughtfully written and extremely enjoyable. ( )
  starbox | Aug 7, 2016 |
All I can say is: Wow. I picked this up a few hours ago as something to read while I waited for the bus and was completely unable to put it down and finished it within a few hours. Smoothly written, a chilling but satirical tale of a daughter and father. When Celine's father decides to remarry, there are consequences. I can't believe that Sagan was only 19 when this was published and I will be looking for more of her work. ( )
  sashinka | Jan 14, 2016 |
Françoise Sagan become an overnight sensation in 1954 which the publication of her first novel Bonjour Tristesse. At the age of 18, she published the novel she will be remembered for; the story of Cécile, a seventeen year old living with her widowed father and his mistress on the French Riviera. During an uneventful summer, an old friend of her late mother comes and stirs the peaceful balance of their summer villa.

Not knowing much about Françoise Sagan, I could not determine just how autobiographical Bonjour Tristesse might have been. I do know that Sagan, much like Cécile was kicked out of school and both enjoyed the bourgeois lifestyle. Sagan is a pseudonym (real name Françoise Quoirez) that was taken from the character Princesse de Sagan from Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perd (In Search of Lost Time). I expect that much of this novel is semi-autobiographical because she managed to perfectly capture the narcissism, emotions and angst of teenage life.

In 1955, a censored translation of Bonjour Tristesse hit the shelves for English speaking readers. It was only recently with Heather Lloyd’s translation that we able to enjoy an uncensored edition. Not that there was much of a reference to sex in the novel anyway. This new translation also packaged Françoise Sagan’s second novel, A Certain Smile into the one book. A novel about Dominique, who bored with her lover, starts an affair with a much older married man.

I found that Françoise Sagan likes to play with ideas of morality and pleasure, while also exploring just how problematic a wealthy and carefree life can be. She likes to look at the disillusionment of the bourgeois characters and explore the emotions that she must have been facing herself. In a lot of ways, I tend to associate the angsty style of Sagan with The Sorrows of Young Werther. Françoise Sagan and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe both managed to capture the intensity of emotions in their novels that I have not experienced in more recent books.

Bonjour Tristesse is a stronger novel than A Certain Smile, but I think both books are worth experiencing. I feel like Bonjour Tristesse had a depth that was not found in A Certain Smile. Both come in at about 120 pages each and A Certain Smile might have benefited with more pages, to fill in the plot and characters a lot more. I enjoy the style of Françoise Sagan and I hope to get a chance to read a few more of her other novels. I wonder what age and life experience does to her writing style.

This review originally appeared on my blog; http://www.knowledgelost.org/book-reviews/genre/classic/bonjour-tristesse-by-fra... ( )
  knowledge_lost | Dec 2, 2015 |
Light yet sophisticated novel on the lives of French boheme from the 60's, I enjoyed it immensely! ( )
  collectorofmemories | Aug 25, 2015 |
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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
Téte désappointée
Tristesse beau visage
- Paul Eluard, La vie immédiate -
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Ik aarzel om het onbekende gevoel, waarvan de tederheid en de verveling mij vervolgen, de naam, de mooie, diepe naam van 'droefheid' te geven.
A strange melancholy pervades me to which I hesitate to give the grave and beautiful name of sadness.
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ROMANCE. Published when she was only nineteen, Francoise Sagan's astonishing first novel "Bonjour Tristesse" became an instant bestseller. It tells the story of Cecile, who leads a carefree life with her widowed father and his young mistresses until, one hot summer on the Riviera, he decides to remarry - with devastating consequences. In "A Certain Smile" Dominique, a young woman bored with her lover, begins an encounter with an older man that unfolds in unexpected and troubling ways. These two acerbically witty and delightfully amoral tales about the nature of love are shimmering masterpieces of cool-headed, brilliant observation.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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