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Fire in the Blood by Irène Némirovsky
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Fire in the Blood (2001)

by Irène Némirovsky

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Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
About ten years ago I took a course in French Women Writers (in translation). Irène Némirovsky wasn't included, but we read a lot of Colette, de Beauvoir, Duras, and Yourcenar.

There's a particular tone of writing they all have in common -- maybe it's a fundamental to the way women write in French, or maybe it's fundamental to the experience of being a French woman (although Yourcenar immigrated to eastern Canada). I don't know. But this fit in beautifully with what I read and loved before.

I'm splitting a difference with four stars. Némirovsky had finished a draft of this novel at the time of her arrest and execution at Auschwitz. The characterization is lovely, the language is exquisite, the story itself complete and achingly beautiful -- if spare.

But I can imagine her adding a little more. As it stands, there isn't a single excess word. Every detail is vital, which is why it took me days to read such a slim volume. I had to stop and consider, and let every word sink in. I'm glad I did, because all the characters feel vivid and real to me, but I'm not quite content with the build to the ending's final turn.


I haven't read Suite Française yet, but now I'm very much looking forward to it. ( )
  sageness | Feb 7, 2014 |
More secrets from the French countryside: I was so excited to get a copy of Irene Nemirovsky's "new" book, Fire in the Blood after reading and adoring Suite Francsaise. This little book will not disappoint her fans.
Set in the French countryside, the reader is introduced to a variety of interesting characters, starting with Silvio, the narrator, who all have secrets that are revealed in the story. I was worried I would be bored with this one, but I was compelled to read the book, and it is a quick read, and like Suite Francaise will leave you wanting more. Gorgeous writing and incredible imagery, Nemirovsky had such talent for relating the thoughts and feelings of the people she depicts--her tragic death is a great loss for the world. Had she survived the war, who knows what opus of her writings would exist now. I believe in time, her books will be considered classics. I can defintely see this novel as well, standing the test of time with other authors sich as Hemingway and Steinbeck. More "required" reading!
  lonepalm | Feb 5, 2014 |
Nemirovsky proves again why she is a literary genius. "Fire in the blood, how quickly it burns out". The story is insightful, passionate and altogether too short. ( )
  newskepticx | Dec 18, 2013 |
Een oudere, op zichzelf wonende vrijgezel levert deels laatdunkende, deels begripvolle commentaar bij de (geheime) relaties van zijn omgeving waarvan hijzelf een belangrijk onderdeel vormt. De sfeer van het dunbevolkte Franse platteland en de wantrouwige aard van zijn bewoners is heel mooi weergegeven. ( )
  joucy | Nov 9, 2013 |
The setting is the French countryside in the 1930s, a bourgeois farming community. The lives and secrets of an extended family are observed by a peripheral figure, Silvestre. He was born in the area, but as a young man he'd chosen a life of restless wandering that ad lead nowhere. Meanwhile his peers had moved steadily toward cold, grasping prosperity. Now he has has returned and has settled back in as a single, middle aged man of modest means. He is living out a sedate, uneventful life. His detachment doesn't last, however as the passions and dramas of young couples around him stir up the longings of his own youth, when he was known as Silvio.

The transition from young to old is the main theme I took from the book. There are so many ways to look at this trajectory – naive to sophisticated, self-centred to empathic, impulsive/impatient to patient/cautious, hopeful to resigned, energetic to tired, and - swallowing them all in importance these days – pretty to ugly. This author’s take is the movement from generous-spirited and hopeful to pinched, diminished, dulled: the older person is someone who time has shallowed and shrunk. Finding the forgotten young person inside you is your best hope of revitalisation. "I want to bring that stranger to life" Silvestre declares. The author, in her late thirties, does so on his behalf, by recapturing his youth in writing.

The novel has the feel of a nineteenth or early twentieth century play - and apparently the author initially considered writing it in that format (Intro, p. xi). ( )
  Notesmusings | May 25, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Irène Némirovskyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lienhardt, PatrickEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Philipponnat, OlivierEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sarkar, PaulineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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We were drinking a light punch, the kind we had when I was young, and all sitting around the fire, my Erard cousins, their children and I.
Quotations
When older people get together there is something unflappable about them; you can sense they've tasted all the heavy, bitter, spicy food of life, extracted its poisons, and will now spend ten or fifteen years in a state of perfect equilibrium and enviable morality. They are happy with themselves. They have renounced the vain attempts of youth to adapt the world to their desires. They have failed and, now, they can relax.
When you're twenty love is like a fever, it makes you almost delirious. When it's over you can hardly remember how it happened...Fire in the blood, how quickly it burns itself out. Faced with this blaze of dreams and desires, I felt so old, so cold, so wise...
But it's like this: when I go out and mix with other people voluntarily, I agree, more or less, to get involved in their odd lives; but when I've climbed back into my hole, I want to be left in peace, so don't come bothering me with your loves and your regrets.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 030738800X, Paperback)

Amazon Best of the Month, October 2007: As the Nazis advanced on France, celebrated writer Irène Némirovsky composed two final masterworks: Suite Française and Fire in the Blood. The first, smuggled out in a suitcase by her escaping daughters when Némirovsky was taken to her death at Auschwitz in 1942, surfaced more than 60 years later and restored her bestselling status. The other, two pages of which slipped out in that same suitcase, was thought lost--until biographers discovered the rest of the manuscript in papers given to Némirovsky's editor for safekeeping. A worthy companion to Suite Française, it follows three interwoven stories across two decades, when the hot-blooded affairs of youth threaten the cool calm of middle age. Once it has all unraveled, the last line lodges in your heart like a sliver. If only there could have been more. --Mari Malcolm

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:47 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

At the center of the tale is Silvio, who in his younger years fled the boredom of the village for of travel and adventure, returns to live in a farmer's hovel in the middle of the woods. Much to his family's dismay, Silvio is content with his solitude. But when he attends the wedding of his favorite young cousin, Silvio begins to be drawn back into the complicated life of this small town. As the narration unfolds, we are given an intimate picture of the loves and infidelities, the scandals, the youthful ardor and regrets of age that tie Silvio to the long-guarded secrets of the past.… (more)

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