The last days before the unknown girl Françoise Quoirez turns into one of the most sought-after writer of her time, idol of her fellows and icon of her time. The year 1954 marked the turning point, when she offered her manuscript of “Bonjour tristesse” to three publishing houses and to her family’s astonishment was immediately accepted. A star in literature was born, in those days which also marked the beginning of Brigitte Bardot’s career as an actress and Paris was the centre of the global intellectual and cultural life. Françoise, now named Sagan, was suddenly catapulted into the middle of it.
Already for I long time I have admired Françoise Sagan’s writing, not just the best known “Bonjour tristesse”, but also “Aimez-vous Brahms” left me thinking for weeks after reading it. Anne Berest’s way of approaching the phenomenon is quite unique: she is not providing another biography with an accurate account of what happened exactly in this year. She uses print materials as well as interviews and memories of companions to create a partly invented and partly accurate description of the last days of Françoise Quoirez and the first days of Françoise Sagan. This is mixed with her own thoughts in the process of writing and the problems in the writing process itself. The result is an interesting book which is always entertaining to read and makes you feel like part of the process of approaching the phenomenon Françoise Sagan.
Apart from the protagonist, you also get a deep insight in the French culture and society of the 1950s, it is often just side remarks that reveal a lot about the time.