A Certain Smile superficial as lip gloss

Françoise Sagan published her first bestseller at 18, then repeated the feat at 20 with A Certain Smile.

The novel is presumed to show how young people view the world.


A Certain Smile by Françoise Sagan

Trans. by Anne Green. E.P. Dutton, 1956. 128 pp. My grade: C-.


cover of paaerback that includes Francoise Sagan's first two published novelsI suspect it was the youthfulness of the author rather than the brilliance of the novel that was the selling point.

As the story opens, Dominique is involved with a fellow Sorbonne student, Bertrand, who she finds boring outside of bed.

Bertrand introduces her to his uncle and aunt.

The aunt, a warm, motherly figure, becomes her friend.

The uncle, Luc, becomes her lover.

They spend two weeks together at a Cannes hotel, returning to Paris to find Luc’s wife has learned of their affair.

Dominique knows Luc does not love her, that he merely uses her, but that doesn’t stop her from loving him — or at least from wanting him as her primary sexual partner.

Dominique’s real passion is Dominique.

She wants the world to revolve around her, but she is so shallow the world alternately uses her and pities her.

Folks older and wiser than Dominque will make a wide detour around this novel.

If Sagan speaks for youth, the world’s in deep do-do.

 © 2016 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda Aragoni

I read. I write. I think. I make big ideas simple. I help teachers teach expository writing to teens and adults. In my free time, I read and review old novels.

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