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review 2016-07-25 19:40
Suite Française, by Irène Némirovsky
Suite Française - Irène Némirovsky,Sandra Smith

I had previously thought that John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces had the saddest publication history of any novel I’d ever read. Irène Némirovsky’s incomplete Suite Française, however, has an even more heartbreaking history. Némirovsky planned a five part novel about the French experience of World War II. The first two parts of Suite Française are based directly on the months after France was invaded by Germany; it felt as if the novel was written in real time. The novel was never finished because Némirovsky was arrested by the Nazis and deported to Auschwitz, where she died in 1942. Her daughter, Denise, found, edited, and published the fragments of Suite Française more than 60 years after Némirovsky’s murder...

 

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type.

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text 2014-09-03 13:26
Bookaday UK - Home Front Novel
Suite Française - Irène Némirovsky,Sandra Smith

This is all I got right now.

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review 2014-05-25 04:07
Suite Française
Suite Francaise - Irène Némirovsky,Sandra Smith

Assigning a rating and reviewing any book can be a difficult task. There's the subjectivity of it: a bad meal or the rebound from a really good read can harm any decent book. There's the pressure of knowing that while my opinion probably won't sink any author, it may be one of the many stones that eventually capsizes someone's career. Add to that my own fears of rocking the boat in an industry I hope to someday be a part of. Ratings are difficult. It certainly doesn't help when the author's work was published posthumously, far from finished, and the author herself died in the Holocaust. Yeah, that fact alone probably boosts the average rating of this novel by one, I figure.

 

This is my second Irène Némirovsky book. I'm glad it wasn't my first. This was meant to be Némirovsky's War and Peace, and I can totally see it taking shape: an epic of more than a thousand pages in five complete and wonderful segments. Némirovsky never had the chance to finish Suite Française. Not surprisingly, none of it really comes together. Had she had the time, I have no doubts this would've been a fabulous book. As it is, it's really just an unfinished outline told in beautiful sentences.

 

Némirovsky was a very talented writer. I would've loved to have been able to read the completed novel; alas, that is an obvious impossibility. This is the closest thing we have, and I appreciate the notes that were included in the appendices. Though the author's notes do not go into details for what would've occurred in the following sequences, they give ideas of not only the overall direction the novel would go, but of Némirovsky's brilliant mind.

 

So no, Suite Française isn't really a four-star book. It's jumbled and confusing, it lacks any resolution. But that doesn't make it any less meaningful or majestic. Personally, I wouldn't recommend this as an introduction to the work of Némirovsky; Suite Française is for those who already know her work, or are merely curious about first-hand accounts of World War II. And if you do decide to pick it up, don't skip the appendices; this is where you'll find the more interesting of the two stories, though sadly, it does have an end.

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review 2014-05-15 19:15
Suite Française - Irène Némirovsky,Sandra Smith

 

                The story of Irene Nemirovsky’s book is undoubtedly more famous than the unfinished book itself.  This edition includes not only her notes (who would have thought, she felt the same way about the priest that I did?) but also correspondence from her and her family.  In some ways, this inclusion of correspondence is actually to the book’s determent.  Nothing is more poignant than a desperate family trying to discover what happened to a missing family member, especially when the reader knows the outcome of the search.

                The book itself is concerned with a set number of Frenchmen and woman as the Germans invade and then Occupy Paris and other towns.  The first section of the book deals with the flight from Paris and desperate attempts to find safety.  The second with a town under Occupation, this town is one that several Parisians escaped to, at least briefly.

                The escape section’s strength is not in the shocking factor of several stories, but the everyday humanity (or cattiness) of the stories.  There are the young sons who wish to fight, the mothers who are both proud and fearful, the cat that experiences a true country freedom, and a problem only the French would have – how to escape with one’s mistress and wife, in the wife’s car.  The occupation section occurs later and how close can one get to those who take one’s land and food.           

                The power of the stories isn’t the conflicts – quite frankly the plot is something you can find in finished works set during the same time – it’s in the writing.  In one chapter Nemirovsky is able to take you into a mind of a cat as he hunts his first vole, and then wrench you to the pell mell escape.  It’s hard to condemn anyone –from car to food stealer to mother who forgets something (Nanny remembers the hat).   It’s the use of language that makes the book a winner.

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review 2013-10-13 07:07
Suite Française - Irène Némirovsky,Sandra Smith Good start, peters off in the middle. Characters very diverse and entertaining but too many to form in interest and stick with them.
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