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Françoise Sagan Bonjour tristesse (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 4 Apr 2013
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About the Author
Françoise Sagan was born in France in 1935. Bonjour tristesse (1954), published when she was just 19, became a succès de scandale and even earned its author a papal denunciation. Sagan went on to write many other novels, plays and screenplays, and died in 2004.
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These are classy, sunny beach Riviera tales which at their publication in 1954 Britain needed abridging for their sexual content. Although they are well written and captivating, I found them, to be honest, rather too subtle and actually even the unabridged versions completely unchallenging (or do I mean unrealistic, not sure?) unlike for example Zola or D H Lawrence.
So not as good as I had anticipated 3 stars
Cécile is spending the summer with her father Raymond and his mistress Elsa in a villa on the French Riviera, and everything is lulling along quite comfortably – that is until Anne, a friend of Cécile’s late mother – arrives after an invitation from Raymond and slowly things begin to unravel.
Sagan was 17 when she wrote this book, and though it’s far more sophisticated than anything I would ever have been able to write at 17 – or indeed 29 – you can almost tell the author is not yet a “woman” because of her reactions to certain situations. She is spoilt, superficial and if I’m frank, a bit bloody annoying. The characters in general are fairly vacuous and seem to blame the heat for everything, which though amusing can become a bit repetitive.
I didn’t see the ending coming, but it wasn’t a jaw-dropping moment. At the risk of sounding heartless, it couldn’t really have ended any other way.
Whether due to the translation or the writing, it captivated me from start to finish. Dare I say it, it reminded of Anita Brookner?
There is no middle ground with such novels. You either love them or hate them
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