Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan

Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan
First published by John Murray in 1954. English language translation by Irene Ash published in 1955.

I registered my copy of this book at BookCrossing

108 pages towards Olivia's fun August Reading Challenge to read an average of 50 pages each day throughout the month. Total = 605.

How I got this book:
Bought from a book sale in Harlech, Wales

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The French Riviera: home to the Beautiful People. And none are more beautiful than Cécile, 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 then, one long, hot summer Raymond decides to marry, and Cécile and her lover Cyril feel compelled to take a hand in his amours, with tragic consequences.
Bonjour Tristesse scandalized 1950s France with its portrayal of teenager terrible Cécile, a heroine who rejects conventional notions of love, marriage and responsibility to choose her own sexual freedom.

I can imagine how shocking Bonjour Tristesse must have been to a 1950s audience, but I don't think that it has dated well. It is essentially a very early Young Adult novella. Its protagonist, our narrator Cecile, is such a spoilt hedonist that I couldn't empathise with her at all and the other characters are disappointingly shallowly portrayed. The storyline did hold my interest, but I couldn't help repeatedly wondering if this book was written now whether it would even get to publication, let alone become such a classic. Its reputation means I am glad to have finally read Bonjour Tristesse, but to the claims for its brilliance that usually centre around Sagan only having been seventeen when she wrote this I would reply that yes, that shows!

Etsy Find!
by Jnapleg in
Paris, France

Click pic to visit Etsy Shop

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Francoise Sagan / Novellas / Books from France


  1. Great review. I have heard mixed reviews about this. On one hand, nowadays the plot does not seem shocking and we can see its flaws. But I guess it would be interesting to see what society consider shocking those days.

    Carmen / Carmen`s Reading Corner

    1. Agreed! It's interesting as a historical snapshot

  2. I love seeing that there is a reference to the August Reading Challenge at the top of the review! I am sorry you couldn't enjoy this as much as you wanted to! Sometimes, books are written perfectly for the current time they were published in and they stay that way.