Sophie's Misfortunes

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Sophie's Misfortunes
AuthorCountess of Ségur
Original titleLes Malheurs de Sophie
GenreChildren's fiction
Publication date
Followed byGood Little Girls 

Sophie's Misfortunes (French: Les Malheurs de Sophie) is a children's book written by the Countess of Ségur. The book was published in 1858 by the publisher Hachette. The illustrations were by Horace Castelli, a French artist. This is the first book of a trilogy; its sequels are Good Little Girls (1858) and The Holidays (1859).


The story is set in a castle in the French countryside, during the Second French Empire. Sophie is a naughty little girl who lives with her parents, Monsieur and Madame de Réan. She is very curious and adventurous and keeps making blunders, though she is often reined in by the critical affection of Paul, her cousin, a good-hearted boy, always trying to show her the right track. Sophie's friends are Camille and Madeleine de Fleurville, "really good" little girls, whom Sophie does her best to imitate.


The success of Sophie's Misfortunes has been constant through the years and still goes on today; the book has been republished many times. Overseas, as well, it has been very successful. Vladimir Nabokov alluded to it in his novel Ada (1969), making up a novel called Sophie's Sophisms [Les Sophismes de Sophie] by a so-called "Miss Stopchin", as well Les Malheurs de Swann, a title which combines Countess of Ségur and Marcel Proust. In United Kingdom, the book was used as reference material to teach young girls French translation (boys would be trained using L'Histoire d'un conscrit de 1813, written by Erckmann-Chatrian).

Main characters[edit]

  • Sophie de Réan
  • Monsieur and Madame de Réan, Sophie's parents
  • Paul d'Auber, Sophie's cousin
  • Camille and Madeleine de Fleurville, Sophie's friends


Cinema and television[edit]

The book has inspired numerous film and television adaptations, including:


  • In 1935, French composer Jean Françaix wrote a ballet called Les Malheurs de Sophie (32 minutes, published by Schott).
  • Les Bonheurs de Sophie, piano sheet music by Chantal Auber, La Pléiade, Préparatoire 1.
  • Les Malheurs de Sophie (2011), a musical by Virginie Aguzzoli.


Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Les Malheurs de Sophie de la Comtesse de Ségur, vus par Christophe Honoré" (in French). Retrieved 2017-12-04.