Author of the iconic book Bonjour Tristesse (Hello Sadness), Françoise Sagan is a renowned novelist, screenwriter, and playwright. She was born in June of 1935 in southwestern France, in a village called Cajarc.
Sagan explores themes of bourgeoise, uncertainty, depression, and infidelity. In the perspective of young and disillusioned teens, she is skilled in writing about romance from a dark and sadder angle. Nicknamed “charming little monster,” Sagan has become known for her lyrical and elegant prose. She published Bonjour Tristesse when she was only eighteen, which instantly became an international hit. It is known as classic book today. I see myself a lot in the narrator and character of Cecile, who is described as self-absorbed and has her head in the air. Well, she is also very introspective and smart too, but I digress.
The book is about a seventeen year old named Cecile, who is living with her notorious playboy dad, and his mistress Elsa. Another woman, named Anne, arrives suddenly, and in other words, shit goes down. On the French Riviera, Cecile hangs out by the beach with her lover, Cyril, and ignores her studies (same though). She is criticized for being lazy and haphazard, as well as drinking too much. She spends most of her time in the sea, where Sagan plays with beautiful descriptions and scenery of the coast.
With his mistress, who is closer to Cecile’s age than his, and an older, more mother-like figure in the house (Anne),Cecile doesn’t even know what to do. This dramatic and colorful book is a page turner. I would say it classifies as a beach read because it is so engaging, but mind you, it has very dark and sad parts. There are parts where I truly choked up, and almost cried. (No spoilers, I promise). I recommend this book highly. I adore the way Cecile thinks and views the world. Her frustrations are expressed in a way so that you feel her anger, too. Her inability to express her thoughts externally is contrasted with her very honest and intuitive inner self.
Here is an excerpt from the book which I love:
“A Strange melancholy pervades me to which I hesitate to give the grave and beautiful name of sorrow. The idea of sorrow has always appealed to me but now I am almost ashamed of its complete egoism. I have known boredom, regret, and occasionally remorse, but never sorrow. Today it envelops me like a silken web, enervating and soft, and sets me apart from everybody else.”-Bonjour Tristesse