I guess it is a perfect example of a coming of age novel, but with a dark twist. You do wonder what kind of adult Cecile will be after such a transition. I do suspect that these kind of novels lose of their impact if you read them later in life but there are things to get from it nonetheless. And reading it from the point of view of an "adult" (eew did I just write that), will prick your interest on aspects of the book that might have been overshadowed by the intense prism of a teenager's mind. I personally saw Cecile from afar whereas I am pretty sure I would have empathised with her had I read Bonjour Tristesse when I was about her age.
17, that's her age in this novel. It's the summer and she plans on spending it with her dad and his mistress, some unimportant chick, in a villa on the French Riviera. Her dad, Raymond, is her life and her model since she lost her mother at a younger age. She explores new feelings and relationships the way he would. Or at least the way she thinks he would, that is without any attachment. Their carefree way of life is in danger when Anne enters in their life. Raymond's fiancee. She's the total opposite of them, she wants rules, organisation and commitment. Cecile is terrified and will do everything she can to try to go back to the way things were. She will play a cruel game, pushed by a feeling of invincibility typical of young adults, she seems unaware that it leaves you one day and the people she's battling with are broken creatures carrying a bag of disappointments, heartbreaks and a short future ahead. A lesson she will learn, the hard way.
It was an interesting read and deserves, in my opinion, the 'classic' label as it has a truly original tone/approach to the coming of age genre. I wish though that I had read it during the warmer months because it made me crave for a holiday in the South of France, I swear I could nearly feel the sun graze on my shoulders. Pure torture.
I am filing Bonjour Tristesse, the film with the beautiful Jean Seberg in my watchlist as I am curious to compare it with the novel (how interesting that the adaptation is American, this book has such a French feeling to it).