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Bonjour Tristesse (Essential Penguin) [Paperback]

Francoise Sagan , Irene Ash
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Sep 1998 Essential Penguin

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.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (3 Sep 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140278788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140278781
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 0.6 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 172,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Francoise Sagan was born in 1935, the daughter ofa prosperous Paris industrialist. She was eighteen when she wrote her bestseller BONJOUR TRISTESSE. She had failed to pass her examinations at the Sorbonne and decided to write a novel. It received international acclaim and by 1959 had sold 850,000 copies in France alone. She has written many other novels, as well as short stories and plays, and a volume of autobiography, AVEC MON MEILLEUR SOUVENIR, appeared in 1984.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is a intruiging and lyrical classic depicting the shallowness of youth, set in the French Riviera one idyllic summer. The heroine decides to scheme and manipulate the lives of her family and friends, completely unaware of the drastic effect she will have. A realistic and moral tale, about how dangerous it can be to meddle in others' affairs. A brief, but utterly worthwhile read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of Bonjour Tristesse 16 July 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the story of a 17-year old, well-off, girl who conspires to interfere with her (egocentric) father's new love affair with a family friend. It was written in the 1950s, shortly after the war, when the author, Francoise Sagan, was herself only 19. The story and descriptive passages require analysis. This is a slow-moving but intricate book not for someone who wants a highly action-packed novel, as its strengths lay in the interplay of the characters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bought as a present... 4 Aug 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
The daughter loves Carl Sagan, so bought her this and promised her she's enjoy this too.
Yes, she's as baffled as you are but she's just as confused in French now, and while she's off guard I may be able to sneak back some of the vast pile of my books she's appropriated as her own

I'm afraid I haven't read Bonjour Tristesse myself, only discussed it with the princess while she's been organising her thoughts. Apparently it's an intense, provocative and typically French introspective piece of work masquerading as a rite of passage romance and worth reading if you like kids writing about their hormonally overwrought first encounters with alien emotional psychescapes but I suspect it's not really my bag. I get the impression it's something like Jane Austen writing a fou fou, beribonned Catcher In The Rye which is not really the sort of angsty overindulgent stimulation I need right now. There are still hundreds of books I want to read that I haven't got time for, most of them not French but I'd stick with Fleurs du Mal and chunks of Zola if I head out in the direction of having my head wrung out, though I know I'd be far more comfortable with Hugo than any of them. I'm not really struck on anything post (including) Sartre but I know I'm being irrationally unengaged through laziness, not because of the quality of output so I'm sorry if I sound unfairly dismissive; it's a genre thing. The main thing is the kid enjoyed the book - but probably not as much as the missus did. It was one of her formative literary influences and she's enjoyed re-visiting it. Apparently it is "very good" and as she's the literate one of the family, then I'm sure that is a fair appraisal.

As a present it seems it was successful. The book was enjoyed - just not by me.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Graceful and timeless 29 April 2007
It's hard to believe, now, that this book scandalised 1950s France. Seventeen year old Cécile, and her father Raymond epitomise the Beautiful People of the French Riviera: fun-loving and decadent, Raymond loves fast cars and attractive women and has taught his daughter to emulate his hedonistic lifestyle. This she does with an innocence impossible after the 1960s, stating of the one boy with whom she even flirts during the course of the book, "if Cyril had not been so fond of me I would have become his mistress that week." The picture is entirely charming, even if the lifestyle is now entirely gone.

And then, in the middle of one long summer, Raymond drops his current lover, the sunburned redhead Elsa, and proposes to marry Anne, an old friend. Cécile is appalled; her dreams of life with her father, of the balance of power between them gradually shifting in favour of her telling him her adventures, seem about to be shattered. She determines to stop the marriage, and forms a plan involving Cyril and Elsa pretending to become lovers right under Raymond's nose, trusting that good old fashioned jealousy will drive him to try to win back his erstwhile plaything.

I was expecting to be bored by this book, but needed something very thin to tuck into a pocket (it's just over a hundred pages). I thought that something which shocked France fifty years ago would be either insufferably tawdry, or just plain dull, but that in either case, morés would have changed so drastically in the intervening period, that the book would be all but incomprehensible.

In the event, what I found was a delicately graceful story which is almost timeless in its depiction of falling in love, growing up, growing older, passion and jealousy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely read 5 Jan 2014
So, the first thing that needs to be said is...Francoise Sagan wrote this when she was only 18!!!

That, in and of itself, is quite the achievement and I was even more impressed with the story upon knowing that. Back in the 1950's, this book scandalized France, but nowadays it appears quite tame compared to some of the things out there. Plot wise, this seems like a very ordinary tale told and retold about a hundred million times in a hundred million different ways. However, it is only when you delve into it and read more about it that you start to grasp the complexity of the novel and the sheer depth of it.

Cécile, seventeen at the time, spends her summer in a villa on the French Riviera with her father and his mistress. Her father, Raymond, is the Don Juan of his days - a worldly man who has had many affairs. His latest is the redhead Elsa Mackenbourg, a typical young, fashionable and superficial woman. Soon after, Anne Larsen, Cécile's late mother's friend, appears to spend the summer with them as well - invited by Raymond himself. She is the complete opposite of Elsa, in fact, she represents everything that is NOT Raymond and Cécile - cultured, educated, principled, intelligent, mature and older! Through a series of events, Raymond finally leaves Elsa for Anne, and even more shocking, he decides to settle down with Anne! At first, Cécile admires Anne, but soon a struggle for control pushes Cécile to devise a plan to prevent the marriage by manipulating her current lover Cyril and her father's past mistress, Elsa.

Reading more into this small novel, you learn to appreciate all the symbolism such as that of the sun and the sea. The sun representing a paternal figure, and the sea representing a maternal one. After an argument with Anne, Cécile runs towards the sea (like a child running to their mother).

An emotionally deep story, that can be easily read in a few hours time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars It's Okay
This was purchased as it was chosen by a member of my Book Club. Did not make me want to read any more Francoise Sagan, as it was about exciting as watching paint dry!
Published 2 months ago by grannyannie
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book.
Short, but great. Came in good condition, good packaging and gave hours of entertainment. Great to take on a short holiday or for commuting.
Published 4 months ago by Helena Vukoja
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking classic.
A modern classic - although banned in France initially, the risque lifestyle it described offended 1950's French society.
Read it!
Published 12 months ago by Pauline Evans
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read - some slightly odd translations!
I enjoyed this book, although one or two of the phrases have been oddly translated! Nevertheless it is true to the original on the whole. Read more
Published 13 months ago by JJ
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice story, very readable
Good seller, the book arrived quick.
Am just into the 2nd part and enjoying the way it has been written and the shortness of the chapters.
Published 17 months ago by fussy25
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it because son recommended it
Short book, translated from French.
Spoilt (or poorly parented, depending on your point of view) girl discovers love, betrayal and revenge and is changed forever as a... Read more
Published 20 months ago by A. Hayes
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read
This is a short, but powerful story of a shallow teenager - whose comfortable world is 'challenged' by a new and stronger parental figure. Read more
Published on 22 April 2012 by andalucia
5.0 out of 5 stars Recycle a novel
this was our book group's 'book of the Month' so we bought a recycled one for 1p - what a bargain, and it was in good condition.
Published on 29 Jan 2012 by Mr M J Barber
5.0 out of 5 stars great service
I was very pleased with my perchase, the book was in good condition and arrived very promptly, would definately buy from this supplier again
Published on 8 Sep 2011 by J. M. Meadows
4.0 out of 5 stars A Small Book That Says So Much
The story of `Bonjour Tristesse' (which translated means `Hello Sadness') is initially a simple one. Read more
Published on 10 July 2011 by Simon Savidge Reads
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