#amreading Bonjour Tristesse
Author: Françoise Sagan
Discovered: Waterstone's, Leamington Spa Summer reads display
Where read: By the sea on La Corniche, Marseille
What's the story?
Françoise Sagan's debut novella was first published in 1954 to critical and commercial success at home in France. 18 year old Sagan was an overnight sensation and the book became a short-hand for glamorous and amoral Riviera life in Fifties France. More recently the book has been republished by Penguin Modern classics in the UK.
The Word's Shortlist view:Bonjour Tristesse is a wonderfully simple novella that is vividly evocative of the 1950s. In Sagan's young hands we are instantly swept along in the story of Cecile, 17 years old and sent to spend the summer with her Father, Raymond, and his mistress Elsa. Sagan's prose is articulate yet naive and perfectly captures early adulthood and sexuality. “My love of pleasure seems to be the only consistent side of my character. Is it because I have not read enough?”
Cecile hits the riviera running and sets out initially to attract men of her father's age. Although this strategy ultimately fails she does fall for a younger chap, Cyril. The story really develops with the arrival of Anne, another of Raymond's girlfriends. The combination of attention seeking Cecile, louche Raymond, superficial Elsa and cultured Anne results in a delicious blend of love and revenge.
Bonjour Tristesse is a French literary classic and appears in Le Monde's top 100 books of all time. I also recently came across an article which suggested that this is one of Michael Stipe's favourite books of all time. Pick up a copy and find out why?
My recommendation? Pick up a copy and enjoy in the blazing hot Provençal sun under the very same skies depicted in the novel.
“La liberté de penser, et de mal penser et de penser peu, la liberté de choisir moi-même ma vie, de me choisir moi-même. Je ne peux dire ˝d´être moi-même˝, puisque je n´étais rien qu´une pâte modelable, mais celle de refuser les moules.”
TransAtlantic by Colum McCann