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Bonjour Tristesse & A Certain Smile

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  753 ratings  ·  59 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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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
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
Catherine Read
"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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
Vanessa Wu
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
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
'' 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
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
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!
Shona Macdonald
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
Hilary G
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Matthew Morgan
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
Beautiful. I need to get my hands on the original french versions.

Bonjour Tristesse

“I forgot there are are times in life when nothing happens and when things don’t cohere.” (16)

“I plunged my face into the water to cool it down and regain my composure. The water was emerald. I was filled with a sense of perfect happiness and freedom from care.” (19)

“Then came the coolness of salt water. We were laughing together, dazzled, languid, grateful.” (74)

“I pushed back my sheets, took off my pajama
This is a collection of two early novels by Francoise Sagan, both published in the 1950s when the author was very young. *Bonjour Tristesse* was Sagan's first novel and it's far and away the best of the pair, not necessarily because it's better written, more insightful or more real, but simply because the story is more engaging and less self-indulgent. There's a sweetness about the scenario and the characters that somehow never turns sour, despite the dark conclusion to the tale. The main charac ...more
Daniel Simmons
"We were laughing together, dazzled, languid, grateful. We had sun and sea, laughter and love. Would we ever experience them again as we did that summer, with all the vividness and intensity lent to them by fear and remorse?" That sudden shift -- from laughter and love to fear and remorse -- is characteristic of this novel. I'm sure I'm not the first (or perhaps even the thousandth) person to think that this book feels like a cross between Albert Camus and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Good stuff.
Alex Thornber
Bonjour Tristesse is a wonderful novella. All at once it is light and dark, funny and sincere and above all beautifully written. Cecile is a capricious teenager who cannot figure out what she wants or what she feels, despite acting as if she knows everything. It is a perfect depiction of those confused teenage years and one I won't soon forget.
Oct 25, 2010 Gail added it
"My love of pleasure seems to be the only coherent side of my character. Perhaps it is because I have not read enough?"

Bonjour Tristesse, 25.

"We had spent the afternoon in a cafe in the Rue Saint-Jacques, a spring afternoon like any other. I was slightly bored, and walked up and down between the juke-box and the window, while Bertrand talked about Spire's lecture. I was leaning on the machine, watching the record rising slowly, almost gently, like a proffered cheek, to it slanting position again
This book was good but a bit of a slog - I wondered if I read it too late, if I might have found the protagonists less irritating when I was a self-obsessed teenager as well. The second story, 'A Certain Smile' is my favourite of the two, it's so melancholy. I did enjoy reading both, but the narrative voice did annoy me.
Mark McKenny
Preferred 'A Certain Smile.' Both good books to be reading whilst on holiday, but not much more. Huge credit to Françoise who was just 18 when these are published.
What a BRILLIANT book!!! It is soooo easy and fun to read! It's like a light trace of perfume, which still hangs in the air after leaving its mistress, but quickly dissolves and disappears, leaving a vague feeling of emptiness.

Françoise Sagan wrote it when she was nineteen years old. It is amazing how such a young person was capable to feel the world so subtly and so keenly . And with all the details and sharpness of sense to keep a soft kindness while speaking of this world.

Personally, in her
I expected more, to be honest. It was just a (love) story, it was nice to read, but not the best I've ever read.
David Breen
An amazing book for an 18 year old to write. Masterful psychological insight and a bit of a page-turner too. Top class read.
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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...
Bonjour tristesse Aimez-vous Brahms? A Certain Smile Sunlight on Cold Water Wonderful Clouds

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