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The Wine of Solitude by Irène Némirovsky
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The Wine of Solitude (1935)

by Irène Némirovsky

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
I don't know if it was the writing or just the translation, but I found myself totally indifferent to this bizarre novel.

A cold story full of colder still characters, it was like reading the narrative through a thick pane of glass. I couldn't connect with the characters, and the story ran along at such a pace that I kept feeling like I was only just catching up and getting into it when she'd be off at a sprint to the next part of the story.

It was my first Russian novel, so perhaps it's just a cultural way of writing that I don't get, or maybe I didn't pick such a great novel to start on my Russian literary journey. The internal dialogue of Helene kept reminding me of wooden English-speaking actors in cruddy B-movies speaking with horrendously fake Russian accents.

I believe this is Nemirovsky's most autobiographical novel. I feel a teenage "whatever" coming on...

3 stars - yawn.
  AlisonY | Dec 29, 2015 |
This is a really powerful story about the rich and/or aristocratic as they play their way through life until the stock market crash in the 20s. It's hard to be sympathetic about her characters, and the author isn't, making even the daughter narrator quite analytic about her bad motives. In the end the daughter goes off to find her own way in life, when her father dies, abandoning her mother who she has hated from childhood. It's a bitter story, sadder because it is supposedly autobiographical. Suite Francaise is much less bitter and has more sympathetic characters. ( )
  varske | Oct 25, 2015 |
"I'm only sixteen but my heart is filled with poison", 25 July 2015

This review is from: The Wine of Solitude (Paperback)
Nemirovsky's most autobiographical work, starting with the central character - Helene - as a child. Her father loves her but is far more interested in gambling, while her mother (for whom Helene is growing to increasingly hate) is preoccupied with her younger lover.
As World War I and the Russian Revolution go on around them, the family are forced to relocate to St Petersburg and then Finland and France (just like the Nemirovskys actually did.)
There are wonderful descriptive passages, notably of her few happy times in Finland. But life is harsh, and as Helene grows up she starts to contemplate revenge on her mother...
I quite enjoyed this but it's not in the same league as the superlative 'Suite Francaise'. ( )
  starbox | Jul 25, 2015 |
This isn't one of Nemirovsky's best works. It lacks pace and content. It may be semi or partly autobiographical. There isn't one likable character in the story. The protagonist is a bit of a whinge and seeks revenge for the neglect and pain she has suffered at the hands of her parents. It does paint a bleak picture of the life of people in the higher echelons of Russian Society. The protagonist's mother is very needy, constantly bored and never happy with her lot, her life, those around her and herself. Her father, though obsessed with making money and gambling (the stock market or the Casino), lacks connection with his daughter and his wife (who has a constant lover/companion). Nemirovsky scorns the habit among well healed married women of taking a younger male lover. Outward appearances are left unspoken. Denial is omnipresent. One feels that Nemirovsky is more angry with her uncaring parents than she is with the Communists that forced them to leave Russia or the forces that caused them to move to Paris after WW1. In the end the Helene (protagonist) becomes the least likable character as she plays her mother off against her young lover causing both extreme pain as her father's finances dwindle causing his health to falter and his ultimate death. ( )
  Fergus_Cooper | Jul 21, 2015 |
(7.5) This continues the theme from some of Nemirovsky's other novels of desperate societal women who need constant reassurance of their beauty and the daughter who is ignored and neglected. It is a slow contemplative story but worth persevering to a positive ending. I note from other reviewers it is considered autobiographical, that being the case , what a sad early life this author lead and then to die in the concentration camps after finally finding love and happiness. A beautiful title, too. I loved one of the closing sentences - 'I may be alone, but my solitude is powerful and intoxicating.' ( )
1 vote HelenBaker | Feb 7, 2015 |
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In the part of the world where Hélène Karol was born, dusk began with a thick cloud of dust that swirled slowly in the air before drifting to the ground, bringing the damp night with it.
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Introspective, intense and poignant, The Wine of Solitude is the most autobiographical of all Ir ne N mirovsky's novels, now available in English for the first time. Imbued with melancholy, and regret, it explores the troubled relationship between a young girl, her distant, self-absorbed mother and her mother's lover, Max.… (more)

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