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Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky

Suite Française (2004)

by Irène Némirovsky

Other authors: Denise Epstein (Editor), Olivier Rubinstein (Editor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,302267483 (3.97)1 / 588
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English (235)  Spanish (10)  Italian (8)  Norwegian (3)  French (3)  Swedish (3)  Catalan (2)  German (1)  All languages (265)
Showing 1-5 of 235 (next | show all)
3.5 stars; I rounded up based on the heartrending appendix containing the letters.

While I found this easy to read and the wide variety of reactions to the German occupation of France (in 1940-41) fascinating, the story itself lacked plot. I am a reader who likes plot-driven narrative over character studies so if you aren't, you will probably like this more than I did! I felt the book lacked cohesion and especially the first section "Storm in June" seemed to be mostly vignettes. Some of that lack stems from the fact that this is an unfinished novel (due to the fact that Némirovsky was arrested by the Nazis in July 1942, sent to Auschwitz and died on 17 August 1942) but I got the sense from her notes that it was intended to be more of a study of French character.

Having said that, her characters are extremely well drawn, even the ones we meet only fleetingly. It was difficult to remember that this was a contemporary account as she wrote it with such a clear and unsentimental style that it feels as though it had the emotional distance of years. There was only one incident that didn't seem to me to fit - the death of the priest Philippe Péricand at the hands of the orphan boys. Actually it isn't so much the boys killing Philippe that bothered me as their behavior throughout the trip with Philippe. It just didn't seem like the behavior of adolescent boys to me, even if they had been raised in a dysfunctional orphanage. ( )
  leslie.98 | Aug 29, 2015 |
Perhaps we would all hope that our actions during a crisis would be honorable, but what would we learn about our true personal priorities if faced with the urgent need to act and a lot to personally lose? Characters here demonstrate their true personal values and learn about themselves. Some learn that the calmer arena of day to day life allows them to act falsely and that there is a difference between what they do to look superior for their neighbors and what they actually value. In this context, older family members can be abandoned, theft and murder can occur, hoarding and withholding resources can be justified even while others suffer...or we can stay true to our family and a spirit of caring about our neighbors and demonstrate that our true natural instincts match the humane standards we hope we have. The suspense comes from not knowing in advance what we will actually do. This is a tension well captured in this book and memorable even without considering the personal tragedy the author was forced to endure, though knowing the story of this book makes it even more memorable. ( )
  karmiel | Aug 8, 2015 |
the story of the manuscript itself is amazing. incredible document and wonderfully written vignettes written during an impossible time in history. ( )
  RachelGMB | Aug 5, 2015 |
This uncompleted “suite” about WWII France shows a variety of French citizens in Paris and small villages as the Germans invade and then occupy France. The French weren’t all heroes. Some were selfish, some were generous. Nemirosvsky portrays the French as individuals. As I read it I felt that this was really what life was like. When you read the story of the author’s life during World War II the story has even more meaning. ( )
  brangwinn | Apr 14, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 235 (next | show all)
Irène Némirovsky wanted Suite Française to be a five-book cycle about the occupation of France, but only completed a draft of two books before the Nazis sent her to Auschwitz, and to the gas chambers, in 1942. Her manuscript was lost in a basement for sixty years until her daughter, who had been pursued by Nazis through the French countryside as a child, discovered and published it. And now, impossibly, we can read the two books of Suite Française.
Less a Wheel than a Wave
added by MikeBriggs | editLondon Review of Books, Dan Jacobson (pay site) (May 11, 2006)
French critics hailed "Suite Française" as a masterpiece when it was first published there in 2004. They weren't exaggerating. The writing is accomplished, the plotting sure, and the fact that Némirovsky could write about events like the fall of Paris with such assurance and irony just weeks after they occurred is nothing short of astonishing.
THIS stunning book contains two narratives, one fictional and the other a fragmentary, factual account of how the fiction came into being. "Suite Française" itself consists of two novellas portraying life in France from June 4, 1940, as German forces prepare to invade Paris, through July 1, 1941, when some of Hitler's occupying troops leave France to join the assault on the Soviet Union.
added by krazy4katz | editNew York Times, Paul Gray (Apr 9, 2006)
"Jeg tror ikke jeg noen gang har vært presentert for en så stor samling mennesker skildret så susende godt. Beretningen er rett og slett makeløs." - Yngvar Ustvedt, VG

Da Irène Némirovsky, en av 1930-årenes mest kjente franske forfattere, grep pennen i 1941, var det for å skrive en roman som skulle bli mer enn en krigsskildring. Hun så krigen som et middel for å nå frem til det innerste i mennesket - og planla sitt litterære storverk: en suite med fire deler. Némirovsky rakk å fullføre de to første, og gjemte manuskriptet i en koffert like før hun ble deportert til Auschwitz, der hun døde i 1942. Like etter led hennes mann samme skjebne. De to døtrene fikk berget kofferten, men det gikk mange år før de orket å lese. Først i 2004 ble boken utgitt i Frankrike og i 2006 kom den på norsk.

Romanens to deler - Storm i juni og Dolce - følger flere familiers og enkeltpersoners strabaser og skjebner, og bindes sammen med toneart og stemninger; temaer og karakterer som går igjen. Her skildres arroganse, dobbeltmoral, likefremhet, kurtise og jærlighet ... Boken åpner med flukten fra Paris i juni 1940,preget av redsel, uvisshet, bombing og mangel på bensin og mat. I Dolce skildres livet i en okkupert landsby, der hverdagen med tyskerne har tatt over.

"Gjennom hele romanen kan leseren fryde seg over skarpe iakttakelser og klare, presise karakteristikker av menneskelig dårskap og jåleri, men også fine, sjenerøse portretter av menneskelig mot og offervilje." - Turid Larsen, Dagsavisen

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Irène Némirovskyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Epstein, DeniseEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rubinstein, OlivierEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Anissimov, MyriamForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bigliosi, CinziaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frausin Guarino, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oreskes, DanielNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosenblat, BarbaraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sarkar, ManikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, SandraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I dedicate this novel to the memory of my mother and father, to my sister Elisabeth Gille, to my children and grandchildren, and to everyone who has felt and continues to feel the tragedy of intolerance. Denise Epstein
First words
Hot, thought the Parisians.
Important events–whether serious, happy or unfortunate–do not change a man's soul, they merely bring it into relief, just as a strong gust of wind reveals the true shape of a tree when it blows off all the leaves.
Everything withdrew back into the night: the songs, the murmur of kisses, the soft brightness of the stars, the footsteps of the conqueror on the pavement and the sigh of the thirsty frog praying to the heavens for rain, in vain.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0099488787, Paperback)

In 1941, Irene Nemirovsky sat down to write a book that would convey the magnitude of what she was living through by evoking the domestic lives and personal trials of the ordinary citizens of France. Nemirovsky's death in Auschwitz in 1942 prevented her from seeing the day, sixty-five years later, that the existing two sections of her planned novel sequence, Suite Francaise, would be rediscovered and hailed as a masterpiece. Set during the year that France fell to the Nazis, Suite Francaise falls into two parts. The first is a brilliant depiction of a group of Parisians as they flee the Nazi invasion; the second follows the inhabitants of a small rural community under occupation. Suite Francaise is a novel that teems with wonderful characters struggling with the new regime. However, amidst the mess of defeat, and all the hypocrisy and compromise, there is hope. True nobility and love exist, but often in surprising places.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:23 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Beginning in Paris on the eve of the Nazi occupation in 1940, this books tells the remarkable story of men and women thrown together in circumstances beyond their control. As Parisians flee the city, human folly surfaces in every imaginable way; a wealthy mother searches for sweets in a town without food, a couple is terrified at the thought of losing their jobs, even as their world begins to fall apart. Moving on to a provincial village now occupied by German soldiers, the locals must learn to coexist with the enemy -- in their town, their homes, even in their hearts. -- Back Cover… (more)

» see all 15 descriptions

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