By the early l940s,
when Ukrainian-born Irène Némirovsky began working on what would become Suite
Françaisethe first two parts of a planned five-part novelshe 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 was dead at the
age of thirty-nine. Two years earlier, living in a small village in central
Francewhere she, her husband, and their two small daughters had fled in a vain
attempt to elude the Nazisshe'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 survivalsome trying to maintain lives of
privilege, others struggling simply to preserve their livesbut 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 villagersfrom aristocrats to shopkeepers to
peasantscope 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 evocationat once subtle and
severe, deeply compassionate and fiercely ironicof life and death in occupied
France, and a brilliant, profoundly moving work of art.
Suite Française is a devastatingly poignant work, made more so by the fact that the author was fully cognizant of her situation and correctly doubted that she would ever live to complete her book. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Starred Review. This heroic work ......focus(es) with compassion and clarityon individual human dramas.
A valuable window into the past, and the human psyche.
New York Times
She also wrote, for all to read at last, some of the greatest, most humane and incisive fiction that conflict has produced.
A work of exceptional force... remarkable because written not after, but during, the war.
La Croix (Paris)
One of the great 20th century authors ... A gigantic literary and historical gift
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Kathleen A I kept coming across this book in my frequent online searches for intelligent yet readable book group choices. Finally, another book group member suggested it, so we knew it was meant to be. I loved this book, and was sorry when I finished,... Read More
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began to write.
success with her
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Set in Italy during the dramatic finale of World War II, Russell's ambitious and engrossing novel tells the little known story of how Italian citizens saved more than 43,000 Jews during the last 20 months of WWII.
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