Wednesday, May 13, 2009

#30 - Bonjour Tristesse

Francoise Sagan published Bonjour Tristesse when she was just eighteen years old. Precocious, intelligent and hideously spoiled, the novel's heroine, Cecile, leaves Paris to spend the summer on the coast of the Mediterranean with her father and his mistress, Elsa. As Cecile describes, "The first few days were dazzling." Romance floats by on a boat carrying a young man named Cyril, and the two begin a love affair. Her days are carefree until her father, a bit of a playboy who has never settled down, invites a friend, Anne, to come and stay with them as well. 

Anne and Elsa are as different as two women can be, and what starts off innocently soon morphs into a love triangle that Cecile manipulates from her position as daughter, lover and friend. Spoiled and used to getting her own way, Cecile isn't happy with a very specific turn of events so she does everything within her adolescent power to impose her will upon the adults. Her childish actions have very grown up consequences, and not a single person on that dazzling vacation walks away unscathed. 

The novel is short, succinct, and the narrative style reminded me a little of Breakfast at Tiffany's. Cecile's own short fallings are endearing, and the entire book makes you long for those days when you were foolish enough to act upon your feelings every single moment of every single day. The P.S. section in my copy contained an interview with the author as well as a truly captivating essay about driving -- just perfect for the start of summer when all I can think about is taking a road trip and spending hours in the car just driving, not really caring if I get anywhere in particular. 

READING CHALLENGES: Sagan was born in France, so that takes care of that country for Around the World in 52 Books. Reading her novel made me long for Paris, because it was just about a year ago that I was there with Sam. Also, Bonjour Tristesse is on the 1001 Books list, so that's two challenges with one short page count (130!).

1 comment:

Maylin said...

There's an excellent movie version exists of Bonjour Tristesse starring Deborah Kerr, David Niven and Jean Seberg who makes the perfect Cecile. It's available on DVD but will also be showing on the big screen at Cinematheque this summer.