Suite Francaise Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Apr 11 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. 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.
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Winner of France’s Prix Renaudot 2004
#1 Bestseller in France
Praise for Irène Némirovsky’s Suite Française:
"If you read only one piece of fiction this year, read Irène Némirovsky’s miraculous last novel. Suite Française is miraculous for the power, brilliance and beauty of the writing, and for the very wholeness of the work, despite its being less than half the 1,000 pages its author intended. . . . Némirovsky’s novel speaks as resonantly today as it would have had it been published in the year of her death: It is a stunning denunciation of the hypocrisy and greed of the ruling elites who make, but never seem to suffer from, war."
—The Globe and Mail
"A uniquely resonant picture of France defeated and occupied, a book of exceptional literary quality – it has the kind of intimacy found the diary of Anne Frank."
–Times Literary Supplement (UK)
"An heroic attempt to write a nightmare in which the author is actually embedded."
–Anita Brookner, The Spectator (UK)
"An exceptionally forceful and frank testimony. . . . Like The Diary of Anne Frank, Suite Française is a real find; it excels both from a literary and historical perspective. A masterpiece."
“Remarkable as the story of the publication of Suite Française is, it will finally be of anecdotal interest compared with the importance of the book. Here is the work of a fine novelist at the top of her form, writing about the fate of her adopted country with a pitiless clarity.”
–Evening Standard (UK)
“Némirovsky sees right to the core of things… Her biting sentences give no respite to her characters…. There are scenes that are fearlessly described in the most vividly real terms.”
–Journal du Dimanche (France)
“Suite Française is not about the Nazi anti-Semitic abomination, but about whatever is low in human nature in general…. Némirovsky’s maturity as a writer, her harsh vision of humanity, her utter lack of sentimentalism or politically correct humanism combine in a book that is vigorously disturbing.”
–Le Monde (France)
“Superb… Its bee-hive structure, its finely tuned sense of what is laughable, its eye-burning imagery, are hugely arresting. Readers are whisked on a flight through social classes, genders and generations.”
–Le Point (France)
“Such a book is hard to find in French literature…. An absolutely necessary rediscovery.”
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a war time story by Irene Nemirovsky; Irene Nemirovsky, a Jew, died in a concentration camp in Auschwitz on Aug 17, 1942. This magnificent manuscript remained virtually forgotten for more than 60 years after the authors death. It tells of the early war years (1940-1941) with the Germans having just defeated the French army and occupying northern France.
The novel is broken into 2 sections. The first section, "Storm in June", deals with the story of about half a dozen persons and their immediate family or associates. Initially, it's an account of these soon-to-be refugees trying to endure the collective humiliation of a nation devastated by their recent defeat in the war; but it is more than this, it is really about the individual changes and personal hardships that are thrust upon hordes of unprepared poor, middle and upper middle class people. Charity, compassion and fair play are thrown out the window and replaced with greed, hoarding and personal survival (at any cost). A striking change in life's values when " the chips are down".
The second part of the novel, "Dolce", was my favorite and I felt, the most beautiful part. It is, in essence, two different love stories. One between a German officer, billeted in a small French home, and a middle class French women and the other, a more generalized affair between the occupiers and the conquered.Read more ›
A. You're looking for a fresh perspective on the psychology of international conflicts like war. This story offers to take you inside the mindset of a French village as it copes with daily grind of living under German occupation during WW II;
B. You need to take a fresh look at some of the issues of war like collaboration as they impact individuals and communities. This story covers both sides of key differences in a very reasonable manner, so that the reader can identify closely with the awkward dilemma accompanying each critical decision.
C. You want to read an account of war that covers every day, down-to-earth affairs, and is not forever dominated by the themes of violence,terror,heroism and political intrigue. Nemirovsky has written just that kind of novel that allows for both a comfortable yet thought-provoking read.
D. Well written and worth the read.
Suite Francaise spans the period from early June, 1940 to July, 1941. The first novella describes the experiences of the French as the Germans swept into France and Paris, easily defeating the French army. Scenes of bombings, families struggling to stay together, individuals trying to acquire gas, food and lodgings to mount a successful escape all fill this section.
The second novella portrays the attempts of the Germans and the French citizens to form some sort of harmonious coexistence and to deal with the inevitable tensions and conflicts that arise. French girls yearn toward young German soldiers as French mothers carefully and fearfully guard their offspring against this sort of intrusion. German soldiers share personal lives and money in attempts at friendship while at the same time posters proclaim a steady series of rules whose violation results in immediate death through the firing squad.
There is a large German celebration that is mounted, and then suddenly a good portion of the troops get ready for redeployment at the Russian front.
The story that links Dolce with the subsequent novellas concerns Benoit who kills a German soldier after one of his hidden rifles is found.Read more ›
Storm in June is about hearing of the defeat in Paris and the subsequent evacuation to the south of several individuals and families. Dolce is set in an occupied French village and examines both the villagers and their German invaders. Three other parts were planned but the author died before she could complete her story.
One thing I enjoyed about this novel was its quiet style, which is not seen much these days in show boat celebrity Oprah writting. Irene Nemirovsky is not only brilliant at creating characters of various types and classes, but of showing how they each react to the invasion. Some are brave, some are despicable, most know they will have to make a compromise to survive. This is a complex thing to attempt yet the author still has the will to write measured, beautiful passages describing a summer evening in a village square a few hours before the first German soldier arrives or the spendour of an hotel trying to keep up appearances for its paniced guests. The novel is full of intimate moments that stay with the reader and Irene Nemirovsky sees with prophetic clarity what is happening to France and what will occur after the war.
The world is fortunate to have had this book saved. Maybe it will learn something from it.
Most recent customer reviews
Hard to reach print, but Amazon came through, again.
Wife was so thrilled that I was able to get a copy and so fasst.
Amazon makes me look good.
(Fiction, WWII, French)
This is the first two parts of what the author evidently intended to be a five part opus. Read more
I am rating the service provided by the seller of my copy, it was 5 star, exactly as described
(I bought a used cop), so i am very satisfied,As far as the book goes, it's... Read more
Excellent book,wtsh book was longer,it is very sad to think the author died in such conditions.Published 18 months ago by eve jaspers
Unbelievable, heart wrenching read. Touching and human and beautifully written. Author's notes at the end made it very special. Highly recommended.Published 21 months ago by Taiga