Book review: Bonjour Tristesse

Bonjour TristesseBonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

After an intervening couple of decades I revisited Sagan’s novel. I remembered enjoying it greatly when I read it in my teens, and hoped the same memories of cut-glass oceans and desultory fucking-for-effect conniving would hold true.

They didn’t.

The book made much more of an impact the first time around. I’m not certain if back then it was because the whole written-when-the-author-was-just-17! thing seemed much more important. But these days it just seems like a lot of youth’s acts – churlish and ill-considered.

I suppose there’s a certain genius in accurately conveying the way adolescents fake maturity until they attain it – and the following fuck-ups that result from acting with appearance rather than consideration – but upon a second reading the once-shocking ending loses some of its sting. By its ending the novel appears as a very pretty thing, but one without much ability to galvanise or produce much more than a ‘meh’ at its conclusion.

Some things aren’t meant to be reread. This is one of them.

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