A strange melancholy pervades me to which I hesitate to give the grave and beautiful name of sorrow. The idea of sorrow has always appealed to me, but now I am almost ashamed of its complete egoism. I have known boredom, regret, and occasionally remorse, but never sorrow. Today it envelopes me like a silken web, enervating and soft, and sets me apart from everybody else.
From the opening paragraph I knew I was in for a treat, and that's exactly what this little gem delivered. The depth of our young narrator's self-understanding (and selfishness), an introspective tone, and engaging writing style drew me in right away and held me rapt through the final page.
A teenage girl, her philandering widowed father, his current girlfriend, a strict but well-meaning friend of her late mother, and a summer rental on the French Riviera... just imagine the possibilities! And there's a cute guy with a sailboat just a few villas down, too.
Goodreads says: "Deceptively simple in structure, Bonjour Tristesse is a complex and beautifully composed portrait of casual amorality and a young woman's desperate attempt to understand and control the world around her."
I think it's also a cautionary tale of youthful schemes and their unintended consequences.
A near perfect summer read, it's hard to believe the author was only eighteen years old when she wrote this novella in 1954.
Click here for links to all of this week's Paris in July posts.