Bonjour Tristesse, Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


'Late into the night we talked of love, of its complications.

In my father's eyes they were imaginary. . . This conception of rapid, violent and passing love affairs appealed to my imagination.

I was not at the age when fidelity is attractive. I knew very little about love.'The French Riviera: home to the Beautiful People. And none are more beautiful than Cecile, a precocious seventeen-year-old, and her father Raymond, a vivacious libertine.

Charming, decadent and irresponsible, the golden-skinned duo are dedicated to a life of free love, fast cars and hedonistic pleasures.

But then, one long, hot summer Raymond decides to marry, and Cecile and her lover Cyril feel compelled to take a hand in his amours, with tragic consequences.Bonjour Tristesse scandalized 1950s France with its portrayal of teenager terrible Cecile, a heroine who rejects conventional notions of love, marriage and responsibility to choose her own sexual freedom.


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This is the story of Cecile, a 17 year old spending the summer with her father (Raymond) in a villa somewhere in the south of France. Cecile and Raymond enjoy an easy-going life. Raymond doesn't worry about his daughter's academic failures; nor does he hide his series of love affairs from her (Cecile's mother died 15 years ago). Their lives are full of amusing, attractive, if somewhat shallow, friends.Enter Anne, and old friend of the family. As Raymond and Anne fall in love and decide to marry, Cecile feels threatened by Anne's sense of order, her intellectualism and slight disdain for the life she and Raymond have been living.Cecile hatches a plot to break up Anne and Raymond's relationship. That plot turns the book into something of a teenager's fantasy: adults (Raymond's ex-lover Elsa and Cecile's beau) willing to play out roles ascribed by Cecile and other adults (Raymond and Anne) easily manipulated by the play acting.In spite of the juvenile plot, the author displays remarkable insight into people's fears and motiviations; especially remarkable given she was 18 when she wrote this book. At 108 pages, this is an easy read and not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

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