Book #45

Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan

Cécile 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, sand and her first lover. But when her father decides to remarry, their carefree existence becomes clouded by tragedy.

Another old favourite, discovered when I lived in France and was going through some serious francophilia. Dazzled by Sagan’s depictions of the Côte d'Azur, and imagining myself there having a good old romantic time of it, perhaps I missed Sagan’s point the last time around.

There’s so much darkness peeking through the sunshine. Cécile is a complex and yet naive young woman. Brought up by her father, she is used to his ever-changing mistresses and his own self-seeking behaviours. As the plot progresses, it’s clear to see his influence over Cécile, and how the father-daughter relationship is built. Although she can’t quite grasp it, Cécile is far more like her father than she thinks.

And yet, despite the quivering relationships, the vile schemes, and the impossibly intricate set of character motivations, I still felt the romance of the French Riviera. The sea, the sand, the trees, the sun, all of it was given to me beautifully, like a hallucinatory sip of wine, which meant, although everything around me was going to shit, my setting made everything better.

Oh, the scandal of 1950s France. It was definitely a time.