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Au Revoir, Tristesse: Lessons in Happiness from French Literature

Au Revoir, Tristesse: Lessons in Happiness from French Literature

by Viv Groskop
Au Revoir, Tristesse: Lessons in Happiness from French Literature

Au Revoir, Tristesse: Lessons in Happiness from French Literature

by Viv Groskop



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“Groskop skillfully juggles memoir, biography, philosophy, and literary criticism to create a delightful tour through some of French literature’s greats.” —Madeline Miller, New York Times–bestselling author

Like many people the world over, Viv Groskop wishes she was a little more French. A writer, comedian, and journalist, Groskop studied the language obsessively starting at age 11, and spent every vacation in France, desperate to escape her Englishness and to have some French chic rub off on her. In Au Revoir, Tristesse, Groskop mixes literary history and memoir to explore how the classics of French literature can infuse our lives with joie de vivre and teach us how to say goodbye to sadness. From the frothy hedonism of Colette and the wit of Cyrano de Bergerac to the intoxicating universe of Marguerite Duras and the heady passions of Les Liaisons dangereuses, this is a love letter to great French writers. With chapters on Marcel Proust, Victor Hugo, Gustave Flaubert, Stendhal, Honoré de Balzac, Albert Camus, and of course Françoise Sagan, this is a delectable read for book lovers everywhere.

“Ms. Groskop is a skilled raconteuse who brings people—and the page—to life. She writes with a self-deprecating appreciation of the Frenchman or -woman manqué(e) that lurks in us all. You don’t have to be a savant to enjoy this book . . . Au Revoir, Tristesse will make a witty, seductive companion.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Groskop’s combination of her own memories, what the novels meant to her at different stages in her life, her description of the authors, along with her description of the novels, will have readers eagerly turning the book’s pages.” —Forbes

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781683357971
Publisher: ABRAMS, Inc. (Ignition)
Publication date: 06/09/2020
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 262
Sales rank: 614,867
File size: 955 KB

About the Author

Viv Groskop is an award-winning comedian, writer, and broadcaster. She is the author of The Anna Karenina Fix: Life Lessons from Russian Literature. She writes for the Guardian, Observer, and Financial Times and is the host of the chart-topping podcast How to Own the Room, where she has interviewed Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, Margaret Atwood, and Julie Andrews. She lives in London.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Happiness is … pretending to be French 1

1 Don't judge yourself for being young and foolish: Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan (Or: Interfering in your father's love life can have dire consequences) 26

2 When memories visit you, soak them up: À La Recherche du Temps Perdu by Marcel Proust (Or: Find excuses to eat your favorite cake) 41

3 Sometimes you've just got to make the most of what you've got: Gigi by Colette (Or: Don't let someone publish your work under the name Willy) 61

4 No one can be truly happy while others suffer: Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (Or: There are times when you need to write in your underpants) 76

5 Self-deceit is the surest path to misery: Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos (Or: Do not use your naked lover as a writing desk) 94

6 Do not judge your own happiness-just let it be: L'Amant by Marguerite Duras (Or: Avoid excessive alcohol consumption) 112

7 True happiness may involve quite a lot of hypocrisy: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (Or: Beware people who dump you by leaving a note in a basket of apricots) 128

8 Our greatest weaknesses conceal our greatest strengths: Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (Or: Be proud of your huge nose) 146

9 It's all very well to be ambitious as long as you are willing to pay the price: Bel-Ami by Guy de Maupassant (Or: The bigger the moustache, the greater the fall) 161

10 Social climbing rarely pays off, but you'll probably want to do it anyway: Le Rouge et Le Noir by Stendhal (Or: Don't flirt with the woman who pays you to teach her children Latin) 180

11 If you're going to behave badly, then do it in style: La Cousine Bette by Honoré de Balzac (Or: Use your disappointing looks to fuel a campaign of revenge against your more attractive cousin) 195

12 Freedom matters more than anything: L'Étranger by Albert Camus (Or: Don't take a gun to the beach) 212

Conclusion: Happiness is not feeling that you have to pretend to be French 227

Acknowledgments 241

A Note on Other Writers 243

Recommended Reading 245

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