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Written in a literary style, Bonjour Tristesse has a narrative power and strong story line which makes it appealing to young people although it becomes more difficult to take in in the second part when there is more introspection.
The interest of the novel
This short novel written during the summer holidays by 18 year old Françoise Sagan was a succès de scandale in 1952. Conservative French society took a dim view of a young girl befriending and then bedding an older young man ; the fact that she was also prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to get her own way to preserve her privileged relationship with her father raised eyebrows.
The criticism was to no avail as the novel carried all before it both in France and abroad. All 17 year olds could identify with the feelings of Cécile the narrator, who is spending her summer holiday on the Côte d'Azur in the lap of luxury with her adored father. When he announces that he is inviting a female friend of his deceased wife to spend some time at the villa alongside the glamourous girlfriend with whom he is already sleeping, we all know there are going to be fireworks.
Inhabiting Cécile's head we become increasingly infuriated at her pretentiousness and the selfish manner in which she begins to manipulate situations in order to get what she wants. Generations of students have enjoyed this novel which certainly lives up to its enigmatic title.