A sensational 1954 French novel that has become a contemporary classic
Set against the translucent beauty of France in summer, Bonjour Tristesse is a bittersweet tale narrated by Cecile, a seventeen-year-old girl on the brink of womanhood, whose meddling in her father's love life leads to tragic consequences.
Endearing, self-absorbed, seventeen-year-old Cécile is the very essence of untroubled amorality. Freed from the stifling constraints of boarding school, she joins her father—a handsome, still-young widower with a wandering eye—for a carefree, two-month summer vacation in a beautiful villa outside of Paris with his latest mistress. Cécile cherishes the free-spirited moments she and her father share, while plotting her own sexual adventures with a "tall and almost beautiful" law student. But the arrival of her late mother's best friend intrudes upon a young girl's pleasures. And when a relationship begins to develop between the adults, Cécile and her lover set in motion a plan to keep them apart...with tragic, unexpected consequences.
The internationally beloved story of a precocious teenager's attempts to understand and control the world around her, Françoise Sagan's Bonjour Tristesse is a beautifully composed, wonderfully ambiguous celebration of sexual liberation, at once sympathetic and powerfully unsparing.
This special Harper Perennial Modern Classics edition includes an introduction by Diane Johnson and a P.S. section with additional insights about the book and author.
Françoise Sagan (1935-2004) was only eighteen when her first novel, Bonjour Tristesse, was published. Her other novels include Incidental Music, A Certain Smile, and The Painted Lady.
“This is a masterly portrait that can be read as a critique of family life, the treatment of children and the psychic consequences of different forms of upbringing.” — Rachel Cusk, The New Yorker
"This sexy, poignant, moving and brief book is a must read." — Helena Frith Powell, The Guardian
“A perfect beach book." — Sloane Crosley, NPR
"Its sparkling sea and secluding woods, its animal quickness, its academically efficient plot, its heroes and heroines given the perfection of Racine personae by the young author's innocent belief in glamour." — John Updike, The New Yorker