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A well written book is a rarity. But a well written book written by an 18 year old? Now that is a treasure. I am happy to have read one such book – Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan. I must thank my blogger friend Bina for highly recommending it and for writing a wonderful review. Here is a brief from the book jacket –
Cecile leads a hedonistic, frivolous life with her father and his young mistresses. On holiday in the South of France, she is seduced by the sun, the sand and her first lover. But when her father decides to remarry, their carefree existence becomes clouded by tragedy.
Sounds simple enough. Yet, Bonjour Tristesse, which translates into "Hello Sadness" is anything but an airy, soap operatic read. Cecile is the teenage narrator of the story and she is every bit the vacillating, dreamy youngster. She is in that dawning age, which makes her a grown up child, still on the threshold to womanhood. Added to this is the life she leads with her father, who is a libertine. Drenched in wine, misty with the smoke from cigarettes and dancing with the sun on holidays, Cecile enjoys her time with her father. They share a unique symbiotic relationship. Cecile does not bat an eyelid at the frequent change in her father’s amour du jour and Raymond includes Cecile in all aspects of his life.
Due to the portrayal of their rather bohemian lifestyle the book created quite a stir when it was published in 1950s France. But it became an instant hit because of the brilliant penmanship and the way the story is wrought. Perhaps only a teenager could have got such an insight into the mind of Cecile or perhaps there are personal experiences shadowing some of the incidents in the book. Whatever it is, Cecile touched my heart with her brashness, vulnerability and indecision. I don’t want to reveal more of this amazing book. I will end here saying that this is one of the best books I have read in a long time. Don’t be fooled by its slimness, it packs quite a punch.
Verdict: A read that is more like an experience