Translated by Irene Ash
Our last day in Paris and I spent it reading Bonjour Tristesse – a very stylish little novella that was published when Francoise Sagan was just 18 years old. The main character, Cecile, is about the same age as the author and this story chronicles the dramatic summer she spends in the South of France with her father and his fiancee.
Cecile is a spoiled and willful girl and she makes a choice, against her conscience, that causes tragedy and heartbreak. The bulk of the novella examines Cecile’s inner battle and her refusal to acknowledge that horrible consequences could result from her plans. We see the action from Cecile’s point of view, which helps the reader to sympathize with her, because otherwise we might think she is a monster. The tone of the novel is very light so I thought it was going to be a comedy. It does have moments of humor, but ultimately it mirrors the title in that it is quite sad. As I read I despised the selfish creature telling the story, but there was no way I could have stopped reading. It was just too compelling.
The author herself sounds very like Cecile as I learned from reading her obituary here.
Have you read Bonjour Tristesse? What did you think?
Oh my…this pie.