Suite Francaise

Suite Francaise


By (author) Irène Némirovsky, Translated by Sandra Smith

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  • Publisher: Random House Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 395 pages
  • Dimensions: 168mm x 236mm x 38mm | 816g
  • Publication date: 11 April 2006
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 1400044731
  • ISBN 13: 9781400044733
  • Edition statement: Translation
  • Sales rank: 327,545

Product description

By the early l940s, when Ukrainian-born Irene Nemirovsky began working on what would become "Suite Francaise"--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 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 Nemirovsky'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 Francaise" is a singularly piercing evocation--at once subtle and severe, deeply compassionate and fiercely ironic--of life and death in occupied France, and a brilliant, profoundly moving work of art.

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Author information

Irene Nemirovsky was born in Kiev in 1903 into a wealthy banking family and emigrated to France during the Russian Revolution. After attending the Sorbonne, she began to write and swiftly achieved success with her first novel, "David Golder," which was followed by "The Ball," "The Flies of Autumn, Dogs and Wolves" and "The Courilof Affair." She died in 1942.

Review quote

"Extraordinary . . . A work of Proustian scope and delicacy, by turns funny and deeply moving, that captures a civilization in its most revealing moment: that of its undoing."-Lev Grossman, "Time""Stories about World War II seem to occur in black and white, all grainy and bleak. That makes the stunning novel "Suite Francaise", about the German occupation of France, all the more remarkable. As the book opens and the Nazis approach the outskirts of Paris, the June skies are gorgeously bright; later, the narrative is rich with evocations of blossoms and trees heavy with fruit, of fragrant air and the sounds of birds-as well as a scene where a cat claws a bird to death and stabs its tiny heart. Lush beauty is the backdrop to dark events, and so is natural cruelty. The characters who populate this sweeping saga of violence and survival-and who exhibit far more self-interest than virtue-are described with the same gleaming precision. The author of "Suite Francaise" is one of the most fascinating literary figures you've never heard of-and her own tragic story only deepens the impact of her book . . . The [book's] first part, 'Storm in June, ' depicts in brilliant detail the tumultuous exodus from Paris in the summer of 1940 . . . There are harrowing scenes on the roads jammed with refugees . . . The second part, 'Dolce, ' is quieter, if no less ominous. Set in an occupied village, it delineates the tangled emotions of the conquered and the conquerors . . . "Suite Francaise"-gripping, clear-eyed and lyrical-doesn't seem incomplete. Yet as wonderful as it is, when you read Nemirovsky's notes, included in an appendix, you see the scope of her ambition and you mourn. She was planning a kind of "War and Peace" for the 20th century and, tragically, she never saw how her story could end." -Cathleen McGuigan, "Newsweek"""Suite Francaise, "written as Nazi tanks rolled across France, captures the chaos, fear, humiliation, and very occasionally, the courage of the French, as well as