Throwback Thursday: Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan

throwbackthursday

Throwback Thursday is a meme created by Renée at It’s Book Talk to share old favourite books rather than just the new shiny ones. This is a great idea to bring back to life some much-loved books. Please feel free to join in.

This week I have chosen Bonjour Tristesse which I read back in 2009.

9780141198750Bonjour Tristesee by Francoise Sagan

This book was written by an 18 year old which, when you consider the richness of the narrative and the emotions involved, I find quite astounding. Or maybe I’ve just got too old and have forgotten how complex emotions are when you’re teetering on the brink of adulthood. Either way, I thought it was brilliantly done.

Bonjour Tristesse (Hello Sadness) is a tale of one tragic summer through the eyes of a seventeen year old girl. Spoilt and extrovert, Cecile is used to living the high life with her 40 year old Dad whom she goes out drinking and gambling with as if she were his contemporary. They head off from Paris to a villa in the south of France for 2 months one summer (taking along Elsa, her fathers current girlfriend) and spend the first few weeks doing little else other than sunbathing and swimming in the sea. Then Anne arrives (Cecile’s dead mothers best friend) who is sensible, intelligent and calm (everything Cecile and her father are not). Cecile loves Anne, but having been used to doing exactly as she pleases, she is not pleased when Anne treats her as the child she is and makes her study for her exams. Cecile is adamant that she doesn’t need exams – she is already leading the life she wants (living in luxury and partying none stop). Shortly after, Anne and Cecile’s father announce that they are getting married and here Cecile hatches a plan to stop the wedding at all costs (fearing for the lifestyle she loves with her father and knowing that it will all change). She involves Elsa, the spurned girlfriend, and Cyril, the boy from the next villa whom she has been sleeping with, to help her plot the undoing of the engagement. Everything seems to be going according to plan, and then it all goes horribly wrong…

I loved it. I don’t know if it is because Sagan was the same age as Cecile herself or that she was an incredibly perceptive young lady, but she really captures the fine balance of not being sure whether you’re an adult or a child. Interestingly, although Anne appears to treat her as the latter and her father as a contemporary, Cecile herself says that she feels like their pet kitten (something to be cooed at and petted).

Verdict:

I instantly fell in love with this book. I have since read a few more of Sagan’s books and been similarly blown away by how perceptive of humans and what makes us human she is. An extremely talented writer.

 

Have you read any of Sagan’s books? Any others you would recommend?

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Carrie by Stephen King

In three words:

Telekenesis, bullying, atonement

What I thought:

I hadn’t been planning on reading this book; I was merely spending a lovely hour or so browsing the hundreds of titles on my Kindle (courtesy of a disc my brother-in-law gave me) and before I knew it I had read a quarter of the book. Another strange fact: despite being a HUGE crime/thriller fan this is only the second book I have ever read by Stephen King, the first being Firestarter when I was about thriteen (of which I have no memory whatsoever).

Carrie was one of King’s earlier books (in fact I think it may be his first writing under his own name rather than Richard Bachman) so perhaps it isn’t as polished as I hear his later works are but, let me tell you, this man can tell a story! Despite the fact that I know the story of Carrie (who doesn’t?) I found myself still as intrigued with the storyline and how Carrie ended up doing what she did. I loved the way that, between the main storyline, the book was made up of excerpts from other books, newspapers, AP Tickers and court transcripts.

 Imagine that this book has first come out (before the film and the noterioty) and you are reading the narrative of a teenage girl who is a school misfit, horribly bullied and humiliated and has a mother so religiously zealous that she locks her daughter in the closet over and over to punish her and pray. Right from the start, the book hints that something big and catastrophic is on its way and that it is imminent. The post-event transcripts and articles tell the reader that something is going to happen where people will end up dead and King drip-feeds us snippets of what is to come leading up to the moment itself. I know, you know, but imagine when it first came out….what a gripping read this must have been! Despite being familiar with the story, I found myself flipping those pages (or in this case, pressing that button) at an alarming rate.

Poor Carrie. She is unpopular, chunky, pimply and plain with no real understanding of the world around her (courtesy of her mother who calls her breasts dirtypillows and hasn’t forwarned her about menstruating because that is the devils work and she will need to be punished for it).  What better target for a group of hormone-crazy school girls who make her life a living misery (and that’s before she goes home). After a particularly nasty incident in the showers, Carrie first discovers (or re-discovers as it turns out) her powers of telekenesis which she proceeds to work on and hone in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Sue Snell – one of the surviving members of Carries year group after Prom Night – decides to try and atone for the humiliation they all put Carrie through by asking her boyfriend Tommy (popular and good-looking straight A student) to ask Carrie to the prom. As Carrie prepares for the night of her life, someone else is plotting her downfall. When the town of Chamberlain wakes up on 27th May 1979, all is well. By nighttime, over 400 of them are dead!

Verdict: I really enjoyed this book. Despite falling into the horror genre, scary it isn’t. What you get instead is an intriguing and well-written plot which looks as if it may be a great foray into his later, scarier works (of which I have every intention of reading now).

Has anyone else read this? Which one do you think I should read next? And which one is the absolute scariest?

 

(source: I read this book on my Kindle)