Sunday, October 5

Suite Française

Title: Suite Française

Author: Irène Némiorovsky

Page: 431 (Including Appendixes, and Preface to French Edition)

Summary: Moving from Paris on the eve of the Nazi invasion to a German occupied provincial village, and tracing the lives of men and women in extraordinarily dangerous times, Suite Française is a singularly piercing evocation of life and death in France during the Second World War.

By the early 1940’s, when Irène Némiorovsky began working on Suite Française, 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, where she died. For sixty-four years this novel remained hidden and unknown. Now, having been published around the world and translated into many languages, this exceptional novel is finding the audience it so richly deserves.

My Rating: 10/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This book was fantastic. Truly a remarkable read. Suite Francaise is split into two parts “The Strom in June” and “Dolce. Both of which t paints a very realistic picture of the peoples of France, during the Second World War.

"The Storm in June
” follows the stories of those fleeing Paris. Nemirovsky was able to create haunting scenes while writing this, filled with the emotion of the characters as they left their homes in Paris. Her ability to show how theses times’ affects human nature was spectacular, and she was able to create the scene with beautiful and elegant descriptions and style of writing. To read how these characters felt, how they reacted to certain events, barriers and attempts to keep their “everyday life” was incredible. She was able to show human nature at its best and at its worst, and what people would do during desperate times, when access to food, petrol and shelter are limited. I won’t give anymore details, so I don’t ruin it, but it is both shocking and sad, yet it paints a very real picture, on how human nature reacts to this sort of situation and the desperate actions of people during trying times.

Dolce” was the second part in this book, and again Nemirovksy is concentrating on the human nature, the emotions of the people and their lives and experiences. This time she takes us to a German occupied village, where the villagers are forced to live and interact with the enemy. Some are torn between duties of their hearts and duties to their peers and culture. But again, she is able to show the desperate lives, the emotion and how they attempted to have their everyday lives the same, even with the eyes of the enemy, so close. She explores exactly the desperate measures some take, the disapproving view others have, and the raw emotions mixed with it. The emotions of these characters pours out of the pages, making them seem very real, allowing the reader to almost feel, for a moment or two, what it might have been like in theses characters shoes. (Although some characters emotions, views and actions seem surprising, you can understand why they do it, even if it seems, unusual, cruel or immature).

I have to warn you, this book is unfinished. Dolce leaves off, and you know there is suppose to be more, but sadly, Nemirovsky was arrested and later died, before she could finish this masterpiece. In my edition (and likely most editions, but I’m not 100% sure on that) they’ve included two Appendixes. I recommend you read both. The first is her journal on her progress of the book, it is sad to see the amount of thought and work she was pouring into this book, but never got to finish it. Even reading the small glimpses of what she had planned had me wanting to be able to read the next parts in the story, although I felt sad, that she never had the chance to do so. The second appendix is her correspondents, her husbands and her daughter’s governances to several of people. Half of the correspondents occur after she is captured and it is terribly sad, to read the desperate emotions in his letters, as her husband tries to find her. Finally in the end of the book (in the preface to the French edition) there is a piece and it explains how this book eventually came to be published. Her daughters, as they went into hiding grabbed this unfinished manuscript, journals and saved correspondents, not realizing for years what it was. I think that’s what makes this so haunting, is over sixty years after this was written, it has come alive. Truly a remarkable and stunning read.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes! 100% I would recommend this to read. I think the majority of audiences would enjoy this book, although there is some who won’t. One issue I want to address, because this is what I have found most common with people who didn’t like this book.

If you are looking for a book that highlight the historical events in detail, etc of the War, this book are probably not for you. She even wrote in the first appendix that “the historical and revolutionary facts etc. must only be lightly touched upon, while daily life, emotional life and epically the comedy it provides must be described in detail. (p.389)”

The book does concentrate on all of these, with the war (in essence to historical facts in detail) as a background, so some may not find the book very exciting. I still recommend this book to read, I think it’s one of those books that everyone should experience, but I can see some who like more “thrilling” or “adventurous” books, wouldn’t enjoy it as much. If you are one of those people, I think you should read it in full, and not set it aside after a few chapters, because the book does paint an important picture on human nature, human emotions and the lives of those who lived during the war.

What to read next: Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels, Diary of Anne Frank, I've also heard a lot of good things about the Book Thief.

5 comments:

  1. I think what I liked best about this one was her writing--I thought it was beautifully written. I just did a seven-word review on my blog of this, and I focused on the darker aspects of the book. I would love to put a link on my blog to your review--would that be okay?

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  2. Great review! This book has been on my TBR for quite awhile. I really should get to it. :)

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  3. Thank you so much for this review. I've owned this book for a while now, but haven't gotten to it yet. My great aunt and her two children were stuck in the French countryside for the entire period of German occupation, so I think I'll connect Suite Francaise. The Book Thief is wonderful, very moving and very different. Don't miss it.

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  4. Thanks. I haven't heard of this book but I am definitely going to read it.

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  5. This one is definitely on my to-read list!

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