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A Certain Smile

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  2,024 Ratings  ·  118 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.
Paperback, 128 pages
Published November 1973 by Penguin (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
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 ♥
May 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: literature
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
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
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
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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.
Jun 11, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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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...
“The questions I would have liked to ask people were: ‘Are you in love? What are you reading?” 121 likes
“I always wanted to ask people: “Are you in love? What are you reading?” 13 likes
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