Cecile and her widowed father take a villa on the French south coast for the summer. Elsa, the latest in a line of her father's girlfriends, joins them. Cecile meets Cyril.
Then Anne, a friend of Cecile's dead mother turns up. In very short order, Anne ousts Elsa and pwersuades Cecile's father to promise to marry her; she takes over as Cecile's step-mother and forbids her to see Cyril.
So Cecile concocts a plan: Elsa and Cyril will pretend to be lovers and arrange it so that Cecile's father and Anne will keep happening upon them; Cecile's father, not known for his fidelity, will bed Elsa and Anne will depart. Everything will be back to the previous free and easy ways.
What could go wrong?
In the course of this very short novel, Cecile grows up in several ways and realises that free love can have a very painful price.
A shocking book in the 1950s, more for its depiction of amoral sex than for the explicitness of the sex scenes which would today be regarded as very coy. But this book has simplicity and poetic naturalness that combine with the classic plot to produce an almost mythic tale. Indeed, under the surface of lax morals and promiscuity, the core message is surprisingly moral and old-fashioned: you need to remember that the people around have fears and weaknesses and wants just like you and that they can hurt just as much as you can.
November 2015; 100 pages
Sagan's next book, a haunting tale of a love affair with a married man, is A Certain Smile.
- I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57