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Bonjour Tristesse (Essential Penguin) Paperback – 3 Sep 1998

4.4 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Paperback, 3 Sep 1998
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Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (3 Sept. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140278788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140278781
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 0.6 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 49,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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By S. Bailey VINE VOICE on 29 April 2007
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
The story of `Bonjour Tristesse' (which translated means `Hello Sadness') is initially a simple one. Cecile is a seventeen year old free spirit who is used to a life with her father, one that is lived in relative comfort, without much expected or demanded of her . However things have begun to subtly change in the dynamic as Cecile is starting to embrace her womanhood and sexuality whilst her father has started to take on lots of rather young lovers, none lasting for particularly long.

In fact it is shown how often these women are in and out of her fathers life rather quickly for at the start of the book Cecile, her father and his latest fling Elsa all go to a villa on the French Riviera but it isn't long before Elsa is usurped by the older and more wilful Anna. Only Anna has decided she isn't going anywhere. Initially we see Anna, who happens to be a friend of Cecile's dead mother, as a pleasant addition to the world of Cecile and her father. However before long the woman who so helped and guided Cecile so well after her mothers death soon starts to show the smallest signs of control, including banning Cecile from seeing her boyfriend Cyril. Cecile decides that Anna needs to go, it's just a question of how to go about it.

I admit that when I first heard of the premise of the book I was thinking of the `wicked stepmothers in fairytales', this is no fairytale. What Sagan has done, and I could almost not believe she was eighteen years old when she wrote this, is created a simplistic tale which carries all the complexities of the human psyche and the spectrum of emotions around love, from the first flushes to the darkest jealousy. This isn't just romantic love either, it's about platonic and familial love too.
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