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A Certain Smile

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  2,061 Ratings  ·  120 Reviews
Sagan's second novel tells the story of Dominique, a bored twenty year old law student at the Sorbonne in mid-1950's Paris, who embarks on a love affair with a middle-aged man.
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published 1956 by EP Dutton and Company (first published 1955)
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This is a sweet little novel about a young girl's willing rush into love with a married man despite knowing that peril awaits, but not experienced enough to know the full consequences of heartbreak. There's a purity to this that is both artful and artless, and because it succeeds at what it sets out to do, I'm willing to overlook its faults. The book is about a brief affair; it should be viewed as a lovely, fleeting wisp, like a firefly in a summer dusk. The language is simple and thoughtful, th ...more
Asya Pavlova
Пруст пише: „Голяма рядкост е едно щастие да кацне тъкмо върху желанието, което го е призовало.“ А миналата нощ това се бе случило, когато се бях доближила до лицето на Люк, желано в продължение на цяла седмица, и от съвпадението ми бе призляло, може би просто поради внезапното отпадане на пустотата, от която иначе животът ми бе изтъкан. Пустота, породена от чувството, че животът ми се разминава с мен. А в онзи миг като никога бях изпитала усещането, че най-сетне се докосвам до своя живот, и то ...more
As short and sharp as her first novel, Bonjour Tristesse, Françoise Sagan's second (published a year later) is the story of a young woman's affair with an older man, and her subsequent, inevitable, heartbreak. Bored and indifferent towards her boyfriend, Bertrand, Dominique feels a shift in her affections when she meets his married uncle, Luc. Once again Sagan provides remarkable and painful insights into the emotional landscapes of youth - the progression of Dominique's feelings for Luc is as a ...more
Nov 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dominique has a lot to learn about love.
She was young and naive and thought she knew how to play the game.
Dominique thought she understood the rules.
But she didn't!
This short novella of young love and growing up!
'I was a woman, and I had loved a man. It was a simple story; there was nothing to make a fuss about.'
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Boredom captured and brought to life in a book. Bored girl finds bored married man, has affair, who cares if anyone is hurt? Story of a pointless relationship written reasonably well, but the story lacks a soul. If anyone is living this way I am truly sorry.
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Last summer, I read and adored Bonjour Tristesse, Françoise Sagan’s seminal novella about love, jealousy and desire – in essence, the games a young girl plays with other people’s emotions. This year I was keen to read her follow-up, the 1956 novella, A Certain Smile – this time in the Irene Ash translation which was rushed out in the same year. (You can read my additional post about Heather Lloyd’s recent translation of Bonjour Tristesse here). In summary, A Certain Smile is the bittersweet stor ...more
This title is generally better known for the 1958 English-language film version with the accompanying title song crooned by Johnny Mathis. The original French-language novel is the short, bittersweet story of a doomed affair that nicely showcases Françoise Sagan’s signature talent for describing the confused and tumultuous emotions of young girls. Dominique, the first-person narrator, is a law student at the Sorbonne who suffers from a particularly serious case of ennui. Everything seems to bor ...more
Feb 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
“I was a woman and I had loved a man. A simple story; there was nothing to make a fuss about.”

Dominique is a bored and listless law student at the Sorbonne in mid-1950s Paris, with a lover called Bertrand that she doesn’t really like, their relationship faltering in the face of her indifference and his domineering ways (“he spent his time looking for a reason to ridicule others…”). When Bertrand introduces Dominique to his businessman uncle Luc (and despite his being married to the lovely Franco
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Loredana M.
Such a short novel and it took me such a long time to read it. I found it quite boring and predictable. Maybe I should have read it when I was 20 or so, I think I would have liked it more. I read "Bonjour tristesse" when I was 18 and I liked it a lot. Perhaps there is an age for every novel and "A Certain Smile" is for 20 year-olds. I don't know. The idea is that, except for the occasionally poetic language, this book didn't transmit much.
وائل المنعم
It's an amateur work written by a 21 girl in two-month period and that's all, I can't evaluate its language but if the translator was fair in her translation so it's a very modest artless prose.
May 11, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-from-1956

In her follow-up to Bonjour Tristesse, 1955, Ms Sagan again made the bestseller list at #7 in 1956. The main character this time is a student at the Sorbonne who does the very French thing of having an affair with her boyfriend's uncle, a man much older than she is. Sagan's writing has improved and in fact reminded me of early novels by Simone De Beauvoir.

As the young woman goes through the steps and stages of an affair, which is pretty much the same story as any affair from a female point of vi
Dec 31, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I don't often read French romance novels of the 1950s, but when I do, it's always Francoise Sagan.
Svetlozara Kabaktchieva
Любов, какво друго!
Sharon Terry
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
Françoise Sagan is part of my youth - as she was for any young girl of the slightest intelligence growing up in the 1950s. I read A Certain Smile in my teens, but, on re-reading it, I find I'd largely forgotten it. Of course, a later reading shows up both its flaws and its features and the passage of time helps to put it in context.

Sagan, who shot to fame at 18 after the publication of Bonjour Tristesse, seems totally preoccupied with love and relationships. The plots of her early novels are ext
Clare Nina
I love the way Françoise Sagan writes. She captures what it is to be a young woman without diminishing her characterisations with the usual teen girl stereotyping that many writers often succumb to. Her characters are frustratingly naive at times yes, but this doesn't make them any less complex, they are merely growing up.

In this simple and concise novella, Dominique is a young woman caught up in her oh-so-French ennui. She is perpetually bored: with her studies, her man, with the city of Paris
I first read this some 5-7 years ago, and having reread it now (spurred on after seeing the movie again), I remain impressed at the depth and enlightened introspection that went into the story. Pervasive throughout the narrative, however, is Sagan's emotional detachment, her apathy--or to be specifically French about it, her ennui with life. And what a beautiful, privileged life it was--is, too.
Were all French seventeen-year olds of the fifties this world-weary?

Brava, Francoise Sagan, you are s
Lora Grigorova
Un Certain Sourire:

Sagan is an icon in contemporary world literature. Her novels encompass the easy,bourgeois lifestyle in Paris, where love is passionate, possessive, but often fleeting. Her characters are young and egoistic, used to the idle and carefree Paris life. However, their love affairs are troubled, complicated by marriage, betrayals, lies, age, and social status. The novels are light and easy to read but at the same time they deeply analyze the
Oct 26, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
I read "Aimez-Vous Brahms" several years ago and that introduced me to Sagan and piqued my interest regarding her other writings. Perhaps it was because she wrote it a different time, long before the likes of Mr. Grey existed, Sagan's stories tend to be very sweet, romantic love affairs, and quite tame for today's standards. Girl is a student who falls for her boyfriend's Uncle, who -- alas -- is married. Girl is also friends with Uncle's wife, which makes for a strange love triangle but that do ...more
Aug 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, romance
I'm not a fan of short stories, but Sagan is very good at those. I enjoyed every word of this book. I agree that this type of literature isn't very deep and I'm sure that had it been first published nowadays, it wouldn't gain popularity and respect, but nonetheless these stories, and particularly A Certain Smile, are something every girl should read. I hope there'll be no stones thrown at me after these words, but really, I can't possibly imagine what could interest the male part of the populati ...more
A simple story with evocative writing. While I certainly haven't been in the narrator's position, I think we're all familiar with the sense of loss and heartbreak that comes with unrequited love described in Part Three. A beautiful little book.
Oct 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't enjoy this one as much as 'Bonjour Tristesse' but still a good classic French love tale. 7/10.
Alor Deng
Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
Fantastic writing
Jacki (Julia Flyte)
I must have read this book 4 or 5 times when I was a teenager. This and Bonjour Tristesse struck me as the epitome of French sophistication. As I was reading it, I kept coming across sections that I could still remember by heart.

It's a slight novel about a law student who has a brief affair with her boyfriend's married uncle. She goes into the relationship thinking she can handle an affair with poise and maintain both her relationship with her boyfriend and her friendship with her lover's wife.
marcelle pépé
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un petit livre qui se lit rapidement, l'histoire n'a rien d'extraordinaire mais je me suis retrouvée dans le personnage de Dominique et ses pensées... Plus d'une fois, des passages m'ont rappelé "L'invitée" de Simone de Beauvoir, notamment lors des interactions entre les deux femmes... Bref, ça se lit bien ! C'est le deuxième ouvrage que je découvre de Sagan et j'ai hâte de poursuivre la découverte.
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
No se trata de la novela que esperaba leer; más bien, no logró satisfacerme de ninguna manera. Lo que resulta imposible negar, en cambio, es que la prosa de la autora es preciosa.

«...cuando se conoce a alguien y se le conoce también su manera de sufrir, parece bastante aceptable».
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found an old-school mass-market paperback at an estate sale, and Ann Greene's translation is unreadable. It was difficult to tell what was happening and any beauty in the language was completely lost.
Sheri Darby
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short and sweet and very French. Like watching a french film
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favourite of Sagan. And right now so well expressing my emotional state. Her books are always on time for some stage in my life.
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
and now it`s my second favourite book ...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
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“The questions I would have liked to ask people were: ‘Are you in love? What are you reading?” 125 likes
“I always wanted to ask people: “Are you in love? What are you reading?” 13 likes
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