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A Certain Smile

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  3,195 ratings  ·  220 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. ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published November 1973 by Penguin (first published 1955)
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Average rating 3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,195 ratings  ·  220 reviews

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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
♥ 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.
Sep 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Mary Durrant
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.'
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
Loredana (Bookinista08)
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. ...more
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.
May 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
A Certain Smile confirms Françoise Sagan to be something of a one-trick pony. Her first renowned novel Bonjour Tristesse set out a bold philosophy that dealt with sexual matters in a manner that was amoral and yet also strangely coy. Readers may have been titillated by a heroine who navigates the sexual world without many boundaries, but they would look in vain for a detailed erotic (or pornographic) scene.

This book is more of the same, giving the lie to Sagan’s claim that her previous heroine
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. ...more
Having read and fell in love with Bonjour Tristesse, I knew I had to read Sagan’s second short novel Certain Smile. Though it does not have the magic spell and uniquely passionate narration, I enjoyed reading it nearly as much as the her first book.
In Certain Smile, Sagan tells the story of an afair between a middle-aged married man and a university student from the perspective of the young girl, who ends up heart-broken. Well, considering the subject, it is easy to guess that things will get u
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
Mar 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
So very French. Dreading ennui more than anything, having an affair with a married man just like that. I'm not even sure if I liked it for itself or just because it's in French and I understood, well, most of it. I'll try a third Sagan and decide then ... ...more
Feb 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama, literature
“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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is my second Francoise Sagan book, and as with the first one (Bonjour tristesse) I enjoyed the writing, it just flows and seems effortless, but the characters are a different story… they have no depth, they are just cardboard people. We would assume that it’s not the same case with the main character; she should stand out, right? The only thing making her “stand out” is that she is having an affair with an older man. Great job.

The main character, Dominique, is bored, her friend and boyfrie
Karen Barber
May 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Sparsely written. This purports to explore a grand passion, but I didn’t really feel either character was particularly passionate. Selfish, bored and inherently self-destructive in behaviour they both seem narcissistic in their approach to relationships.
Dominique is a young girl on the brink of adulthood. She seems to be moving outside her usual social circles. When she meets her boyfriend’s uncle, Luc, it’s rather inevitable that they start an affair. This takes place over a summer. They go on
Sharon Terry
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
May 11, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Nov 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
On re-reading: Enjoyed this more the second time around (also brought it to 4 stars for me). I was able to read this not so much in comparison to Bonjour Tristesse (though I did re-read that just before this one), but on its individual merits. It really is a nice story, and Sagan's insight into the soul touches me like few other authors can. I guess I am on a bit of a Sagan kick, but it feels right.

Cute book but not as introspective as Bonjour Tristesse for me. It didn't have the "trump card" of
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Françoise Sagan's A Certain Smile is a delightful novel about a young woman who falls in love with her boyfriend's married uncle. Dominique is walking on glass, as she likes and respects her lover Luc's wife, Francoise. We see the relationship progress, until it reaches its apogee with a two-week stay in Cannes. When Luc and Dominique return to Paris, the relationship comes unglued; and Dominique must begin to put together a life without this grand romance with an older man.

The elfin Sagan knows
Lora Grigorova
Aug 14, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Although it took me some time to refresh my memory, regarding this book, I've found it more appealing than her first title in the terms of idea, while the method wasn't anything special. The main reason was it's somewhat complex love theme in which a young person finds herself between two people she finds fond of, but in a different way. While one is around her age, attractive, intelligent and with great plans, the other is older, mature and experienced in conversations and interactions with the ...more
Jun 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: i-own-it
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
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. ...more
Oct 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Didn't enjoy this one as much as 'Bonjour Tristesse' but still a good classic French love tale. 7/10. ...more
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cherise Wolas
Just like Bonjour Tristesse, A Certain Smile, Sagan's second novel, is as fresh today as it was when it was published in 1954. It's Paris and Cannes in the 1950s, and the main character, the first-person narrator is a law student, and in a relationship with another law student, Bernard, when she meets Bernard's married Uncle Luc. There are enough summaries of this book that I won't summarize. But again, Sagan, who wrote this book apparently in 2 months, captures so wonderfully the feelings of a ...more
Nov 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
It happens. We fall in love.
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
Oct 26, 2016 rated it liked it
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
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Born Françoise Quoirez, Sagan 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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