Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bonjour Tristesse: Francoise Sagan

Image Credit: Amazon



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

Rating: 5/5

11 comments:

  1. I'm glad you loved this book so much! :) It's really intense and a wonderful feat for an 18 year old!

    I still have to watch the movie though!

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  2. Bina - Yes loved it! It's so atmospheric, this book. Now I too want to watch the movie!

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  3. Wonderful review, Birdy! I loved this description of the story -'she is seduced by the sun, the sand and her first lover' :) Cecile seems to be one of the interesting characters in literature. I will search for this book.

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  4. Wow Birdy! This sounds amazing! Bring it in to office on Monday!

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  5. Vishy - Yes, definitely one of the more interesting books to be read... Do read and I will wait for your review :)

    Soul - Ah didn't see this because as you know there was no net :( Will get it tmw

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  6. I've been wondering about this book for a while now. It's on the 1001 books to read before you die list so I would have to read it at some point.

    Now I'm going ahead and getting a copy as soon as I can. I didn't know it was written by a teenager. Wow. Must read! Excellent review.

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  7. mywordlyobsessions - Thanks :) The fact that it's written by a teenager is hardly evident in the writing but as I said in the review, on the other hand, such amazing insight into teenagerish feelings/emotions can perhaps be plumbed only by someone of that age...

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  8. This is probably a book everyone should read - a classic of its time, and one which stands out from the 1950s typical greyness and austerity. Nice review - thanks for sharing

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  9. Tom - Thanks for stopping by :) Truly said, this is definitely a book everyone must read.

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  10. i completely adored this book - just found your review. currently reading a certain smile by the same author. i was astounded after the first few pages of bonjour tristesse - it's actually a beautiful read - which is one in a million. at times, it reads almost like poetry. i think her young age really adds to the way it's written - it seems naive, but naive in a way that is almost wise. She doesn't over complicate things, she sees them as they are, with a naive eye, but in a way this leads to wise and mature findings. seriously beautiful.

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  11. Alice - I loved this book too. You put it perfectly - it reads like poetry and that "it seems naive, but naive in a way that is almost wise." That is what I felt on reading it. She is a teenager but you definitely cannot write off her thoughts as being on the same level. I would love to read more books by Sagan :)

    Thanks for dropping in at our blog :)

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