Penguin (Great Loves collection), mm pb, 112 p.
Translated from the French by Irene Ash
Love can be complicated.This is one of those classic stories where I knew the title but not really what it was about, so I began this slim novel (novella?) without any real expectations, and quite enjoyed it.
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, the sand and her first lover. But when her father decides to remarry, their carefree existence becomes clouded by tragedy.
It’s a coming of age story that isn’t nearly so scandalous as it was at the time, but it’s still an interesting portrayal of the selfishness of youth, set in the beautiful French Riviera. Cécile is a shallow, annoying teenager, but considering the author herself was only 18 when she wrote this, it comes off as very realistic. So even though I didn’t really like the character of Cécile, or any of the others for that matter, and as it’s only too late that she realizes the consequences of her actions so that it was a little like watching a slow motion train crash, I had to read on.
Despite the smooth translation though, I can’t help feeling that it’s missing a certain je ne sais quoi that would make reading it in the original French a more engaging experience. Perhaps I’ll try someday. In the meantime, I wouldn’t mind reading something else by Sagan. Hesperus Press (I really wish they’d get their website back up!) has one, The Unmade Bed, which I’m now eyeing quite lustfully.
Article on the author in The New York Times
First sentence: A strange melancholy pervades me to which I hesitate to give the grave and beautiful name of sadness.
My Rating: 3.5/5
(#9 for 2009, 1% Well-Read Challenge)
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