Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan

The month is getting away from me! This is my first post for the Paris in July challenge, and I'm reviewing Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan, published in 1954. 

Cécile is seventeen years old and spending a lazy summer at a villa on the French Riviera with her playboy father, Raymond, and his young girlfriend, Elsa. Cécile has seen her father's girlfriends come and go, and she knows Elsa will be no different.

Soon, Cécile begins a relationship with Cyril, a local young man in his 20's who is a law student. She spends her days doing what she pleases and not much is required of her--until Anne Larsen arrives. (Anne was a good friend of Cécile's now deceased mother.)

Unlike the vapid young women who drift in and out of Raymond's life, Anne is closer to his age, and she is more sophisticated. Her presence means that Elsa must leave. But what Cécile can't abide is that Anne wants to make changes. For example, she talks to Cécile about her studies and insists that Cécile spend a significant amount of her time reading and preparing for school.

Raymond soon makes clear his intention to marry Anne, and this begins a power struggle between Anne and Cécile. Coming up with a way to reunite Elsa and her father, Cécile involves Cyril in her plan. No one could have anticipated what Cécile's actions would set into motion and what the consequences would be.

What amazed me was that Françoise Sagan was eighteen when she wrote this book. She was an effective writer. I felt sympathetic at times with all the characters and at times exasperated with their actions. It wasn't hard to believe that Cécile would be so spoiled, fickle and manipulative. The book is a fast read, and I recommend it.

Reading Bonjour Tristesse makes me want to read more of Françoise Sagan's books. Do you have a recommendation? What are your thoughts on Bonjour Tristesse?


  1. After reading this review and another recent one, I really want to read this book! Sounds so interesting... Thanks for sharing!