Books: Sagan's Second

When convent-educated Francoise Sagan* dashed off her first novel, Bonjour Tristesse, in a summer month in 1953 after flunking out of the Sorbonne ("With my family angry at me, I had to do something"), she became one of Europe's fastest-selling, most controversial authors. The limpidly written tale of 17-year-old Cecile (a year younger than the authoress), who maneuvers her father's two mistresses to meet her own needs and causes the suicide of one, quickly became France's biggest bestseller (450,000 copies). Translated into 14 languages, it won the Prix des Critiques, touched...

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