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Bonjour Tristesse & A Certain Smile

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,010 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
Published when she was only nineteen, Françoise Sagan's astonishing first novel Bonjour Tristesse became an instant bestseller. It tells the story of Cécile, who leads a carefree life with her widowed father and his young mistresses until, one hot summer on the Riviera, he decides to remarry - with devastating consequences. In A Certain Smile Dominique, a young woman bored ...more
Paperback, 213 pages
Published January 5th 2009 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1956)
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Community Reviews

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Jul 25, 2011 Christiana.K rated it really liked it
Contrary to the last book I read, as part of my "Classics" experiment (Paul Auster's "New York Trilogy"), I'm sure as hell glad I picked this one up!

Francoise Sagan's first two novels have proved short, sweet and to the point ~ making the couple of days (on/off) it took me to read them highly enjoyable and utterly worthwhile.

Amongst beautiful landscapes and fascinating, highly complex characters, Sagan weaves two searing, deliciously "French" tales of love, passion, jealousy and betrayal. One s
Feb 29, 2012 Michelle rated it really liked it
Sigh. Oh, Bonjour Tristesse - why do you have to only be one hundred and nine pages? It's so unfair.

I took as long as I possibly could to read this novel. For a few days, Bonjour Tristesse became my world. And what a world...

Bonjour Tristesse is the perfect literary holiday. It's that rare bird; a novel you can escape into, that will also keep you thinking. Okay, so the novel's not without tragedy - it's called Bonjour Tristesse, after all - but really, who can resist a twisted love story?

(Or i
Françoise Sagan become an overnight sensation in 1954 which the publication of her first novel Bonjour Tristesse. At the age of 18, she published the novel she will be remembered for; the story of Cécile, a seventeen year old living with her widowed father and his mistress on the French Riviera. During an uneventful summer, an old friend of her late mother comes and stirs the peaceful balance of their summer villa.

Not knowing much about Françoise Sagan, I could not determine just how autobiograp
Nadia King
May 23, 2016 Nadia King rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read. Loved that it pushed the boundaries for its time.
Oct 04, 2009 Steve rated it liked it
Two novels in this edition, written by the young and insightful teenager from 1950s French society, Francoise Sagan.... initial impressions have "chick-lit" in the frame, but after due consideration, this is provocative stuff from one so young... I have to admire her insight and ability to convey the emotions of lust, jealousy and unrequited love, though this is surely semi-autobiographical in nature... recommended to be devoured in an afternoon.
Jan 25, 2015 M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So French it hurts - but in a good way. Beautiful writing, and poignant observations. It breaks all the 'rules' that exist now for style, which for me shows why those rules are there to be broken. A book(s) I'll definitely revisit when I'm older and, hopefully, wiser.
Catherine Read
Jun 28, 2015 Catherine Read rated it really liked it
"Happiness is a flat expanse without landmarks. Hence, I have no precise memory of that period in Cannes . . ."

I picked up this book at Hatchard's in London at the suggestion of the young man at the front register. The book is remarkable for having been the first novel of a 17 year old French writer that was published in 1954 and became a sensation. This Penguin Modern Classic is actually two novels (the quote above is from "A Certain Smile") more recently translated than the originals of the 1
Tanya Sen
Jun 17, 2016 Tanya Sen rated it really liked it
Finely crafted prose, gracefully sensuous - and yet careless, cool, irresistibly languid. The style is faintly Fitzgerald-esque and very, very French. Writing fluently about both searing emotion and cold detachment, Sagan takes us on very real journeys of psychological development. The overall effect, therefore, is perfect for the kind of lazy summer afternoon when you don't want to expend too much effort in thinking, but want to be drawn in and bestowed with some interesting thoughts anyway.

Aug 22, 2015 Nadia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review of Bonjour Tristesse
An elegant and eloquent short novel about love and deception. It was a very enjoyable read, despite the protagonist being rather young, selfish and unlikeable. It surprises me that Sagan was only 18 when this was published, as it is so well written and has emotional depth. The writing is simple but powerful. I myself found it interesting how, despite everything that happens over the summer, Celine and her father revert back to their previous way of life - I think that
Nov 23, 2014 Graham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, france
These two short novels - almost novellas - are both very French, and of their time. They are French in the sense that they are very reflective, wordy, willing to examine and theorise about subjects such as love and morality, not just tell a story. Both have the same, self-conscious, self-examining tone, and the voice of the young narrator is very similar in both novels - not surprising of course since they both represent Sagan herself. There is the same, even, meditative and somewhat disillusion ...more
Shona Macdonald
Apr 13, 2015 Shona Macdonald rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories
I wasn't overly charmed by this particular 19-yr old's first effort; while it is oddly frank for the time period, by the 3rd chapter it comes across as petulant rather than honest and there is nothing here that cannot be found in Fitzgerald's Rosemary in This side of Paradise. The ending was horribly Gatsby-esque and...the whole storyline was very overdramatic and just smells too much like Fitzgeralds' exhausted pastel-colours of an indistinct France at an indistinct time with not half of his un ...more
Jul 18, 2015 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bonjour Tristesse - This story was absolutely fantastic, everything about it was amazing, the plot, the characters were all so decadent and hilariously "intellectual" that the ending came as a huge shock. It was beautifully written, wonderfully translated by that matter!

A Certain Smile - Strangely quite different from Bonjour Tristesse but at the same time had a beautiful writing style and excellent characters. Halfway through the novel the character being bored bores the reader, though this is
Vanessa Wu
Jul 11, 2011 Vanessa Wu rated it it was amazing
These two novellas are nice and short. They are very beautifully written. You might not like the narrator but she knows what she's about. Bonjour Tristesse is deservedly very famous but its immediate impact on French society was because of its immorality. Actually I think the book has depth. The introduction to this edition by Rachel Cusk is very illuminating and sensitive. But, I don't know, I think there is still more to this book than Rachel Cusk allows. It has a certain sensual quality that ...more
Nicole Garton
Mar 15, 2010 Nicole Garton rated it it was amazing
Shelves: french-fiction
On my plane ride home from Paris, I found a great fiction book (which I seldom do) at the London airport. I read the whole thing on my flight home and instantly fell in love! It's a collection of two short novels by Françoise Sagan - Bonjour Tristesse and A Certain Smile. They were written in the early 50s by a young, French girl who failed out of the Sarbonne. Lots of interesting themes - and I'm jealous I didn't write it! She's called the French F. Scott Fitzgerald... only it very much reminde ...more
Noura Khalil
May 08, 2015 Noura Khalil rated it really liked it
'' tristesse '' c’est ce sentiment jusqu’alors ''inconnu" pour la narratrice, devenu obsessif, constant (dont l’ennui et la douceur m’obsèdent, dira-t-elle dès l’ouverture du roman), telle une blessure dont la douleur est douce et permanente; mais c’est aussi un sentiment complet et égoïste (donc personnel et profond), causé par le "regret" et le remords de ce qu’elle avait poussé Anne Larsen à faire (le suicide dissimulé en accident); il s’agit d’un sentiment troublant, percutant, qui l’empêche ...more
Dec 03, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it
This is essential reading for all Fathers who think they have darling little daughters but don't know the half ! Unbelievably Francoise Sagan wrote this short story as a mere eighteen year old but possessed with great self knowledge and Machiavellian intent. Fathers beware your daughter is watching you and could well be a little minx like dear Cecile !

We learn our narrator is an intelligent and precocious teenager with no moral compass after a motherless childhood in which she observed at close
3,5 stars.
Aug 01, 2015 Flynn rated it really liked it
Makes me want to read / speak French so I could enjoy this delicious pair of stories in the original language.

Perfect for beach reading on îles de Ré cette semaine!
Feb 01, 2016 Idyll rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Idyll by: Sveta Alladi
Even though the dreamy book cover with the girl on the beach only mentions Bonjour Tristesse, the book has two novels: Bonjour Tristesse and A Certain Smile, each about 100 pages long.

I find both Cecile (in the first novel) and Dominique (in the second) relatable. I get the scheming and self-willed Cecile like I am her. She is naturally carefree and fun-loving and is able to enjoy a colorful life in the way one might if one has unexacting moral standards and a strong sense of entitlement. But,
Luís Castilho
Jul 09, 2016 Luís Castilho rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! This is the quintessential french novel of the XX century. I was really awestruck with Françoise Sagan's talent. This book encompasses the first two novels she wrote when she was only eighteen (late 50's). The very first one "Bonjour Tristesse" is a great summer novella that really shows her ability to portray the bohemian and carefree attitude of the post-war youth (the european version of it at least not the adventurous Kerouac version). It tells the tale of young Cécile's summer spent in ...more
Tomas Howells

I have a new favourite author and new favourite book.

Bonjour Tristesse is by far the best "classic" I have ever read. The writing is perfect and the feeling in it is believable, the feeling is real. The darkness of being a teenager is perfectly captured.

A Certain Smile is also a great story. Much more mature and darker than Bonjour Tristesse. Another great read.
Hilary G
Jun 25, 2015 Hilary G rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read Bonjour Tristesse in French during my year in France between my second and final year at university, where I studied French (obviously). I can't remember what I thought about it then, but I know what I think of it now.

What I think is that if this book had been written in Sanskrit, published in Ulan Bator and the story set in Tuvalu, I would still have known it was French. While this is, of course, a generalisation, in my experience only the French wallow in their emotions in this way, dis
Jan 03, 2016 Maruk rated it it was amazing
A delightful short read.
Kristi Sawyer
Mar 21, 2016 Kristi Sawyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, classics
'Bonjour Tristesse' is fantastic! I was gripped from the first page which offered such a philosophical and insightful description of the nature of sadness. Cecile, being a philosophy student speaks in a really intelligent way, it makes for really beautiful writing and a complex emotional journey. Her romance with Cyril is bright and romantic. The style of narrative was funny and made me smile, I would thoroughly recommend it and it is very deserving of 5 stars!

'A Certain Smile' was not as good f
Jun 30, 2015 Angelin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started this book not knowing that it was classified under erotica, and although halfway through I realised that there were some sexual references, I thought that the book was more than that. At first, it had reminded me a little of Nabokov's "Lolita", then it began to take on a shape of its own, constantly shocking me with the maturity of 18-year-old Sagan. Sagan displayed maturity, introspection in Bonjour Tristesse that I thought would only be possible for someone who had been through some ...more
Phoebe Lynn
Sep 07, 2015 Phoebe Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sang Suk
Apr 21, 2016 Sang Suk rated it really liked it
Shelves: post-college
I expected a more in-depth ending than what was presented.
Sally Tarbox
"He's just the type who tries to seduce young girls like me", 7 Aug. 2016

This review is from: Bonjour Tristesse AND A Certain Smile (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Two novellas of some 130p each, transporting the reader to the world of 1950s teens.
My favourite of the two has to be A Certain Smile, in which narrator Dominique is attending the Sorbonne and dating fellow-student Bertrand. But when she is introduced to his Uncle Luc - and his charming wife - she begins to fall for him. The comp
This book was kind of disappointing. It was nice enough and I was fairly impressed by what I read (especially considering that Sagan was only 18 when Bonjour Tristesse was published) but that's about as far as its impact goes. It's nice, nothing special. It would make a nice, light pool side read in the height of summer, but without the sun and the atmosphere this is lacking in any magic of its own. I found both stories a little bland, to be honest. They had their good moments - hence the 3 star ...more
Matthew Morgan
Nov 10, 2014 Matthew Morgan rated it it was amazing
Published in 1954, Bonjour Tristesse describes the hedonism of the young narrator, Cécil, and the moral vacuum in which she and her sybaritic father exist: they swim and sunbathe idly, her father exercises for vanity, and Cécil reflects that the sand pouring through her fingers “was trickling away like time, and that it was facile to think like that and that it was pleasant having facile thoughts.” Cécil has grown up with a lack of parental authority figures; she informs the reader that “[her] f ...more
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Born Françoise Quoirez, she grew up in a French, Catholic, bourgeois family. She was an independent thinker and avid reader as a young girl, and upon failing her examinations for continuing at the Sorbonne, she became a writer.

She went to her family's home in the south of France and wrote her first novel, Bonjour Tristesse, at age 18. She submitted it to Editions Juillard in January 1954 and it
More about Françoise Sagan...

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