21 octobre 2020

Zooming Bonjour tristesse

Le Petit Robert dictionary includes the verb zoomer and defines it as rapprocher le sujet grâce au zoom.  Elaine BELL certainly brought her subject, Françoise Sagan's Bonjour tristesse, closer as she hosted her third Cercle de Lecture using the Zoom online meeting platform.

Elaine's annotated school copy of Bonjour tristesse

Logging into the Cercle's virtual waiting room it was immediately apparent that Elaine's talk had attracted a substantial number of participants.  Philip had previously emailed members with her notes so we were able to see the themes she intended to address in our bookclub discussion.

Now a practised hand for Zoom meetings Philip reminded us of some basic protocols, not least using the mute facility and the raising of a hand should those taking part wish to make a point or pose a question. Another tip was to use gallery view and clicking on that it was pleasing to see 25 people had joined the meeting.


Referring the reading group to her notes and speaking in French and English, Elaine conducted a lively exploration of the text and was adept at sounding out the views of the attendees.  The exchanges were certainly animated and one comment received after the session commended the very high level of preparation and discussion.  It was interesting to hear participants linking some of the novel's themes to other books and authors they had read.  F. Scott Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby was one such parallel and mention was also made of D.H. Lawrence. 

Bonjour tristesse had also been made into a film using locations identified in the book and one of our members mentioned that he had walked several times past David Niven's house on one of those promontories east of Nice.

Other members commented on the experience of re-reading a text that they had first encountered at school.   Indeed, Elaine proudly showed her copy, kept from her days as an écolière, which was liberally annotated with key points, marginal notes and vocabulary items.

The Zoom discussion format worked well and it was fascinating to see and hear members engaging with one another. When the microphones are unmuted and a person speaks that person becomes the current contributor and Zoom illuminates their screen. That makes it possible for members to see their interlocutors up close and with their name below their picture.  As there were many new faces (and names) at the meeting that's a particular benefit of the online format.

It would be great to have CfB book club sessions more often and if members have suggestions for suitable titles, especially where the French book is available with English translation and possibly a film tie-in, please do let us know.

Meantime, un très grand merci to Elaine and Philip for another very successful meeting; and of course to everyone who took part.  It was a most enjoyable evening.  See you next time.

Bonne Lecture !