SUITE FRANCAISE by Irene Nemirovsky, Book Review
Suite Francaise Synopsis
In 1941, Irene Nemirovsky sat down to write a book that would convey the magnitude of what she was living through by evoking the domestic lives and personal trials of the ordinary citizens of France. Nemirovsky’s death in Auschwitz in 1942 prevented her from seeing the day, sixty-five years later, that the existing two sections of her planned novel sequence, Suite Francaise, would be rediscovered and hailed as a masterpiece.
Set during the year that France fell to the Nazis, Suite Francaise falls into two parts. The first is a brilliant depiction of a group of Parisians as they flee the Nazi invasion; the second follows the inhabitants of a small rural community under occupation. Suite Francaise is a novel that teems with wonderful characters struggling with the new regime. However, amidst the mess of defeat, and all the hypocrisy and compromise, there is hope. True nobility and love exist, but often in surprising places.
Translated from the French by Sandra Smith
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An absolute masterpiece – this book really does deserve all the praise its received and its position on the bestseller lists.
This is such a beautifully written story, a piece of art – at times I re-read passages just to admire the way Nemirovsky describes the scene, finding joy and beauty in the most dire of situations (a real credit to the translator Smith also).
This evocative recounting of such dark times in European history and the strength of the human spirit is something that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading. Brilliant.