Sagan, Paris 1954
Anne Berest; Heather Lloyd (translator)
Gallic Books, Sep 15 2015, $14.95
In 1954, teenage amies Françoise Quoirez and Florence Malreaux enjoy Paris. Whereas Françoise is a bourgeoisie expelled from several schools, Florence is a drop out. Françoise admires her BFF who as a Jewish child joined the French Resistance, but is rewarded by society as an outcast reminder of the atrocities that Vichy France prefers to forget. Ironically Florence respects her BFF for fearlessly questioning French bourgeoisie society for de jure sexism in which women cannot work or own a bank account without male approval (she had to accept cash for winning a literary prize) and not so discrete racism for mistreatment of Jews.
To honor his late mom and her astonishing accomplishment on its Diamond Anniversary and her death ten years ago, Denis Westhoff commissions Anne Berest to write a special memoir in spite of the writer nee twenty-five years after the publication of Bonjour Tristesse. Depressed due to her separation from the father of her child, Anne analyzes data and interviews those who knew Françoise before she became the great “scandalous” author of teen angst alongside of Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye).
This is an appealing fictional memoir that focuses on what happened in 1954 to transform bourgeois teen wannabe writer Françoise Quoirez into award winning author Françoise Sagan. I found Ms. Berest’s personal tsuris and healing interesting but somewhat disruptive of the fascinating look at the metamorphosis of a teen into Sagan. Still les lecteurs will appreciate this unique glimpse at an eventually influential writer just prior to her fame.