Book Review: "Bonjour Tristesse" by Francoise Sagan

Its the 1940s in France, Cecile is a seventeen year old girl spending the summer at a seaside villa with her father and his (current) girlfriend.  Her mother died when Cecile was very young, making her handsome father, Raymond, a very young widow; having a new girlfriend every few months is not unusual.  Ever since Cecile came home to him 2 years ago from the convent school – they have been partying together and having a great time.  Now away with one of his girlfriends, Raymond invites another woman to come stay with them too.  This new woman, Anne, was a friend of Cecile’s mother’s, and Cecile is quite taken with her.  Until Raymond throws over the girlfriend for Anne and Cecile begins to fret over the possibility of losing the lifestyle she shares with her father.  All of this while she is developing a relationship with the handsome guy next door – who is almost ten years older than her.

I found this novella purely by accident and was compelled to read it one Sunday afternoon.  Cecile is kind of a spoiled rich-kid brat who has almost an incestuous love for her father.  She is very young and naive, and yet is surprised to find herself attracted to the guy next door as he isn’t of her father’s age.  She is just so lonely for his attention – he doesn’t ignore her – but he does give plenty of attention to young pretty things that grab his attention for a month or two.  For such a short book, that honestly reads quite light and breezy, it really holds a surprising depth.  Now that I’ve read up a little bit about this – the author was just eighteen herself when this was published – and that really adds to the authenticity of the main character.  This was a glorious find!

Also, not that it means much, but I love this cover.  Isn’t it wonderful?

Bonjour Tristesse
by Francoise Sagan
Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2008.  First Published 1955.
160 pages
Source:  Library

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