Friday, March 16, 2007

Laura's Review - Suite Francaise

Original Review

Irene Nemirovsky was an author of Jewish descent living in France in 1940. She initially intended for Suite Francaise to be a 5-part novel. Unfortunately, the war intervened. Nemirovsky completed two parts of the novel, and was then taken to Auschwitz where she died. Her daughters managed to hide the manuscript and it was published some 60 years later.What a fantastic book! The writing is wonderful. The first part takes place in 1940 when the Germans marched on Paris. It tells the stories of several different people who evacuated Paris, and what happened to them over the next several months. The characters range from the wealthy & famous to the ordinary. Each situation is one of personal tragedy, which is portrayed in poignant and realistic ways. The second part takes place in 1941, and describes the German occupation of a French village and the relationships that develop between soldiers and villagers. The characters introduced in this part have some connections to characters in the first part. Nemirovsky is superb at character development, and in her depiction of the French class system.The end of the book includes notes from Nemirovsky's notebook which show her creative process both in writing these first two volumes and in planning the third. It was interesting to read what she had planned for some characters who seemed ancillary in the first two parts. The final appendix contains correspondence, first from her and later, sadly, from her husband who attempts to locate her after she is taken away to the camp.

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