Suite Francaise Author:Irene Nemirovsky, Sandra Smith (Translator) By the early l940s, when Ukranian-born Irène Némirovsky began working on what would become Suite Française -- the first two parts of a planned five-part novel -- she was already a highly successful writer living in Paris. But she was also a Jew, and in 1942 she was arrested and deported to Auschwitz: a month later she... more » was dead at the age of thirty-nine. Two years earlier, living in a small village in central France -- where she, her husband, and their two small daughters had fled in a vain attempt to elude the Nazis -- she’d begun her novel, a luminous portrayal of a human drama in which she herself would become a victim. When she was arrested, she had completed two parts of the epic, the handwritten manuscripts of which were hidden in a suitcase that her daughters would take with them into hiding and eventually into freedom. Sixty-four years later, at long last, we can read Némirovsky’s literary masterpiece.
The first part, “A Storm in June,” opens in the chaos of the massive 1940 exodus from Paris on the eve of the Nazi invasion during which several families and individuals are thrown together under circumstances beyond their control. They share nothing but the harsh demands of survival -- some trying to maintain lives of privilege, others struggling simply to preserve their lives -- but soon, all together, they will be forced to face the awful exigencies of physical and emotional displacement, and the annihilation of the world they know. In the second part, “Dolce,” we enter the increasingly complex life of a German-occupied provincial village. Coexisting uneasily with the soldiers billeted among them, the villagers -- from aristocrats to shopkeepers to peasants -- cope as best they can. Some choose resistance, others collaboration, and as their community is transformed by these acts, the lives of these these men and women reveal nothing less than the very essence of humanity.
Suite Française is a singularly piercing evocation -- at once subtle and severe, deeply compassionate and fiercely ironic -- of life and death in occupied France.« less
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After all the media hype over the discovery of this manuscript following the author's tragic death, I was really looking forward to reading this book. Alas, this was one of the most boring and difficult books I've attempted to read in the past few years.
I don't know if something was lost in translation, but the prose was flat, dull and the characters were not likeable. I tried, giving it the 100 page rule, but in the end I put it back in the bag and took it back to the bookstore to exchange.
I think the backstory of the author's experience, her deportation to Auschwitz and subsequent death, and then the 'discovery' of this manuscript would have made for a more interesting novel. Perhaps others will enjoy this, but it didn't live up to the hype for me.
I had high expectations for this book. Several times in the beginning I almost quit reading it. I found the book to be hard to follow and not very captivating. However, the last 100 - 150 pages did get better. At the end of the book I did find myself satisfied and glad I had read it. All in all it was a good glimpse of a very difficult time in history.
This was a very powerful read for me. Nemirovsky's prose is so beautiful and full; she wrote with such detail that I could picture the characters in my mind just perfectly. The little twist at the end really caught me off guard and made the awful situation all the more real. I loved this book and it will be on my mind long after I've shipped it away to another reader.
It is a work of fiction, but sometimes reads like non-fiction. I found myself absorbed in it. Yes, it is an incomplete work. It is tragic that the author was killed before it could be completed. I found it to be a fascinating glimpse into the personal horrors and human reactions to war. The appendices tell the rest of the story, and that story is true and more tragic than anything the author could have penned.
If you are looking for a classic start-to-finish novel, this is probably not going to be a satisfying read. If you are a WWII history buff, this story about the German conquest/occupation of France will not disappoint you. I personally loved it and finished it in only two days. I could not put it down.
I though it was an extraordinary and sensitive book written in the middle of the horrors of world word 2. Remarkable awareness of the human condition by a relatively young woman. Obviously a highly intelligent and well educated woman.
Though not a finished novel, to me it felt complete and highly satisfying. It amazes me that other reviewers have said they could "not get into it". I could not put it down and ready it in two sittings.
A view of the French from Paris to countryside during the German invasion of France. Many interactions between the natives and the German soldiers who basically took over their town. Many consorted with the invaders and others did their best to avoid the invaders as much as possible. Very interesting read.