To think that Francoise Sagan published Bonjour Tristesse (1954) when she was eighteen is evidence that some are born to write - and write well.
What a tremendous book. I mean it. What a vibrant, knowing, sorrowful book; what an accomplishment. I found myself captivated by Bonjour Tristesse, envious of its insights, rejoicing in its simplicity. Sagan composed her story with such poise, such restraint: she captures what she knows, and the result is a portrait of youth dotted with even parts beauty, sexuality, and confusion.
And Sagan's writing: line by line, paragraph by paragraph - she's a master, and Bonjour Tristesse masterful. I can't remember the last time I read a book so in tune with its time, and yet so modest, so reserved. Sagan had me from the start: from her characterization of place, of parenthood and its complexities.
I've read a number of books this winter about childhood - novels by Edna O'Brien and Alberto Moravio to name a few - but none compares with Bonjour Tristesse. I tip my hat to Sagan: here's an author who's captured cruelty and compassion with rare readability, and who's written of youth with remarkable prescience. That's a rare combination, indeed.