Written when Sagan was only 18, Bonjour Tristesse tells the story of Cécile, a 17 year-old-girl, on vacation with her widowed father and his mistress on the French riviera.
The hedonism described in the book reflects Sagan's own lifestyle. The author is notorious for driving recklessly to the point that she received multiple head injuries. After the success of her first book, Sagan bought a Jaguar which set the tone of a life of gambling, drugs and indulgence. Followed by debt and scandal, Bonjour Tristesse is a revolutionary anthem to youth.
Alongside the author's second book A Certain Smile, Rachel Cusk writes, "These two novels, so spare and rigorous, so artistically correct, so thorough in their psychological realism, are the highest expression of the triangular purity of their author's strange and beautiful esthétique."