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June 20 2020
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The French writer Françoise Sagan wrote Bonjour Tristesse when she was 17.

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

We literary critics have a problem. It’s hard to get people to read our stuff. Individual reviews may still attract a decent-size audience. But, like contemporary poetry, books of criticism tend to find few readers beyond a microscopic niche of fellow initiates.

One common strategy for avoiding the remainder bin consists of blending the intricate work of critical analysis with the more approachable concerns of memoir and self-help. In Au Revoir, Tristesse, Viv Groskop duly frames her discussions of 12 classic French novels as a series of lessons in how to be happy. These literary life hacks are illuminated by anecdotes from the British journalist and comedian’s long “love affair” with France, which began typically enough with school French lessons and estival trips across the Channel as an adolescent.

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