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Home » Books » Fiction & Literature » History

Suite Francaise

By Irene Nemirovsky, Sandra Smith (Translated by)

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Format: Paperback, 416 pages
Published In: United Kingdom, 01 February 2007
In 1941, Ir ne Nemirovsky sat down to write a book that would convey the magnitude of what she was living through, not in terms of battles and politicians, but by evoking the domestic lives and personal trials of the ordinary citizens of France. She did not live to see her ambition fulfilled, or to know that sixty-five years later, Suite Fran aise would be published for the first time, and hailed as a masterpiece. Set during a year that begins with France's fall to the Nazis in June 1940 and ends with Germany turning its attention to Russia, Suite Fran aise falls into two parts. The first is a brilliant depiction of a group of Parisians as they flee the Nazi invasion and make their way through the chaos of France; the second follows the inhabitants of a small rural community under occupation who find themselves thrown together in ways they never expected. Nemirovsky's brilliance as a writer lay in her portrayal of people, and this is a novel that teems with wonderful characters, each more vivid than the next. Haughty aristocrats, bourgeois bankers and snobbish aesthetes rub shoulders with uncouth workers and bolshy farmers. Women variously resist or succumb to the charms of Germa

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Already acclaimed as a classic, this is the lost masterpiece behind the major new film starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Michelle Williams

About the Author

Ir ne Nemirovsky was born in Kiev in 1903, the daughter of a successful Jewish banker. In 1918 her family fled the Russian Revolution for France where she became a bestselling novelist . She was prevented from publishing when the Germans occupied France and moved with her husband and two small daughters from Paris to the safety of the small village of Issy-l'Ev que (in German occupied territory). It was here that Ir ne began writing Suite Fran aise. She died in Auschwitz in 1942.

Reviews

HighBridge has chosen exceptional readers for these remarkable novellas. Oreskes reads "Storm in June" in a clear, low storyteller's voice, changing tone to designate characters without trying to act out or be those characters. He handles Nemirovsky's black humor and irony with intelligence, and understates to great effect reactions from haughtiness to decency in the midst of panic and death as masses suddenly rush from Paris in the wake of Nazi bombings in 1940. Rosenblat has a husky Lauren Bacall voice that draws you into the dialectically complex relationship between French villagers and German occupiers in "Dolce." This is not a diary or a novel written years later in cool contemplation. These are historical novellas written while the author lived through the events. Yet with the detachment of hindsight and the craft of a fine, experienced author (she had successfully published nine novels), Nemirovsky shapes into novel form the stories of a small gallery of French Parisians and villagers and occupying German officers and soldiers, each with his or her national and personal idiosyncrasies and destinies. This was to have been the first of five novellas in an ongoing war saga, but in 1942 the Germans discovered the Jewish writer living in a small village. She was arrested and shipped to Auschwitz, and died a month later. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 13). (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"A masterpiece" * Sunday Times * "Quite outstanding, full of beauty, pain and truth" -- Anne Chisholm * Sunday Telegraph * "An irresistible work. Suite Francaise clutches the heart" -- Carmen Callil * The Times * "The work of a genuine artist" -- Julian Barnes * Guardian * "Magnificent" * The Times *

EAN: 9780099488781
ISBN: 0099488787
Publisher: Vintage
Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.9 x 2.6 centimetres (0.22 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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4 review(s)
All Reviews
4
2
1
1
Kelly on
+2
Celebrated in pre-WWII France for her bestselling fiction, the Jewish Russian-born Némirovsky was shipped to Auschwitz in the summer of 1942, months after this long-lost masterwork was composed. Némirovsky, a convert to Catholicism, began a planned five-novel cycle as Nazi forces overran northern France in 1940. This gripping "suite," collecting the first two unpolished but wondrously literary sections of a work cut short, have surfaced more than six decades after her death. The first, "Storm in June," chronicles the connecting lives of a disparate clutch of Parisians, among them a snobbish author, a venal banker, a noble priest shepherding churlish orphans, a foppish aesthete and a loving lower-class couple, all fleeing city comforts for the chaotic countryside, mere hours ahead of the advancing Germans. The second, "Dolce," set in 1941 in a farming village under German occupation, tells how peasant farmers, their pretty daughters and petit bourgeois collaborationists coexisted with their Nazi rulers. In a workbook entry penned just weeks before her arrest, Némirovsky noted that her goal was to describe "daily life, the emotional life and especially the comedy it provides." This heroic work does just that, by focusing—with compassion and clarity—on individual human dramas.
Joanne on
+1
A disappointment. Clarity was called for in this novel. Although the authoress tragically died as a victim of WW, I found the most touching part of the novel to be her story - the truth of her struggle to survive, found as an appendix at the end. Also touching was the scribbled and scratched out copy of Ms. Nemirovski's own handwriting on the inside of the cover.

The novel lacks a certain cohesiveness - one can only imagine that is because of the author's premature demise, as her aim for her work was for this to be the first of a series.

I found the characters to be generally unlikeable, although the descriptions of human nature ranging from disbelief to outrage to humour to be a very accurate portrayal of the depth of reactions to disaster and danger. A good read for those interested in honest portrayal of those times of uncertainty, and the descriptions of a first-hand observer of the German Occupation of France.
Margaret on
 
An engrossing story of the human impact of political conflict: this is a fictional reconstruction of German-occupied France as seen through the lens of everyday human life. I immediately wanted to read more by this author, whose own tragic story ended in Auschwitz.
Valerie on
 
I really loved this book and it goes into my 10 best books that I have read. I couldn't put it down.
From the departure of Paris as the German army approached is an interesting account of human behaviour to the sad love affair between a French lady and a German soldier with their final farewell at the end.

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