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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.

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7,881300422 (3.97)1 / 639
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Showing 1-5 of 266 (next | show all)
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky; Sandra Smith, translator; (4*)

Nemirovsky wrote this horrendous yet wonderful book as she was living it. There is no other explanation for the absolute realism she achieves. The first part of the book (only 2 of 5 parts were completed) tells how people sometimes live & behave in a major life changing crisis. At first everyone helps out and shares what they have. Later it becomes everyone for himself. People will steal, loot & even kill in order to preserve their own lives & those of their loved ones.
The first part of the novel/memoir concerns the evacuation of Paris as the German army invades. There is no one protagonist and the story is woven back and forth among many people; people whom the reader feels were intended to become connected later in the book. One gets the feeling of overall confusion and chaos along with their effect on the characters. This portion of the book felt so real to me.
The second portion of the book takes place during the German occupation. Both the author and her husband were deported and died at Auschwitz and the book was never finished.
Strangely there is barely any mention of anti-semitism and there are no Jewish characters. Nemirovsky was a stateless Russian Jew in France at the time of the Nazi invasion which was most likely the worst position anyone could be in at the time. Her prose is lovely and the story is breathtaking. My thoughts upon finishing this novel were that the author most likely found the writing of it to be quite cathartic. It is sad that she was unable to survive the camps and live to share more of her work with the world. ( )
  rainpebble | Jun 28, 2017 |
  perennialreader | May 27, 2017 |
It's that time of year again, April, May to read books about the war.
And this was an exceptional one.
It took me some time to read, because it's not an easy novel and also because it's quite a sad one. I loved it and admire the writer.

I find it very special to read the tragical story of Irène and her husband in the appendices. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Apr 24, 2017 |
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky is a brilliant but sadly unfinished tale set in occupied France in the first years of the Second World War. Nemirovsky, who was Jewish, was killed in a concentration camp having only written two of her five planned novels.

The first book follows several Parisians on the days after France falls to the Germans, and the general exodus from the capital city ahead of the arrival of German troops. The second book is set in an occupied agricultural village where a regiment of German soldiers is billeted, and tells of the relationship between the conquerers and the villagers. It is a beautifully detailed story, full of description, so vivid that I could, with ease, picture characters and homes and fields throughout, which only increased the attraction of the book.

Although the novel is classified as historical fiction, I think that is important to remember that it was written during the Second World War and is probably very close to fact, given that Nemirovsky lived in Paris when France was invaded by Germany. There is undoubtedly verisimillitude in the intricate tales, and first-hand knowledge of the availabilty of food and the conditions of the people taking part in the general panicked rush from Paris to the countryside. Although it is lively fiction, it is also partly historical document, and a lot can be learned from it.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a slow read, as the novel unfolds gradually, and because I had such a busy week without much time to read, I kept having to go back a few pages to figure out what was going on when I'd put the book down two days ago. I became very attached to some of the characters, particularly the Michauds and Lucile. This is a book that I will read again, and which I will recommend to others. ( )
1 vote ahef1963 | Mar 4, 2017 |
Irene Nemirovsky was Jewish. Her family escaped anti-semitic persecution from the Russian government during the 1917 revolution. She relocated to France, and after being arrested in 1942 died in the concentration camp Auschwitz at the age of thirty-nine.

"Suite Francaise" is in two parts. Nemirovsky’s intention was to write a five part novel, covering the entire duration of World War II, but was arrested before completing the last three segments. The novel does cover the Nazi invasion of France in 1940 and through the eyes of a variety of characters, the reader gets to experience exactly what that was like. It’s an understatement to say it was not pleasant. While the men were off fighting - suffering as prisoners of war - or already deceased, the women, children, and old men were under seige struggling to survive.

The local villages surrounding Paris were overrun with German soldiers. Despite food shortages - the German soldiers confiscated all the “bread, the flour, the potatoes... they had taken the petrol and the cars, and now they were taking the horses...... so there are prisoners, widows, misery, hunger, the occupation.” Most households had to accommodate at least one German boarder - relinquish their power over their own home to the very men who had possibly killed their sons, brothers, husbands and fathers.

And yet, Irene Nemirovsky writes with an unbiased non-judgmental viewpoint. War is bad. That is the message. And within the context of the story she makes a philosophical effort to understand the “struggle between personal destiny and collective destiny.”

One interesting point Nemirovky points out is it is easy to be a nice person with principles, kindness, and integrity when life is going well. It’s another story when confronted with catastrophe - like war. “It’s a truism that people are complicated, multifaceted, contradictory, surprising, but it takes the advent of war or other momentous events to be able to see it. It is the most fascinating and the most dreadful of spectacles.... the most dreadful because it is real; you can never pride yourself on truly knowing the sea unless you’ve seen it both calm and in a storm. Only the person who has observed men and women at times like this.... can be said to know them. And to know themselves.”

This is not a novel about the French Jewish population. It is about the French aristocracy that still owned large tracts of land, the local farmers, the ordinary country folk. If there were Jewish residents among them, it was not yet an issue within the time frame of the first two parts of "Suite Francaise". You can see the selfish “every man for himself” mentality begin to emerge as times became more difficult. However, the French were much more compassionate towards the Jews than other European nations. Of the 340,000 Jews in France at the time the German’s invaded France, 75 percent did survive the war. It is a tragedy that even one had to die, and that Irene Nemirovsky didn’t live to finish this novel.

i can’t vouch for the paper back, kindle, and later editions - but the 1st edition printed in English in 2006 has 2 lengthy Appendices (48 pages) of notes from Irene Nemirovsky’s private journal about the situation in France during the occupation and her ideas for the entire novel. Also included are correspondence amongst her family members after her arrest and the Preface to the French Edition - details about her arrest and how the manuscript for the book came to be in a publisher’s hands. ( )
1 vote LadyLo | Jan 30, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 266 (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)
El descubrimiento de un manuscrito perdido de Irène Némirovsky causó una auténtica conmoción en el mundo editorial francés y europeo. Novela excepcional escrita en condiciones excepcionales, Suite francesa retrata con maestría una época fundamental de la Europa del siglo XX. En otoño de 2004 le fue concedido el premio Renaudot, otorgado por primera vez a un autor fallecido. Imbuida de un claro componente autobiográfico, Suite francesa se inicia en París los días previos a la invasión alemana, en un clima de incertidumbre e incredulidad. Enseguida, tras las primeras bombas, miles de familias se lanzan a las carreteras en coche, en bicicleta o a pie. Némirovsky dibuja con precisión las escenas, unas conmovedoras y otras grotescas, que se suceden en el camino: ricos burgueses angustiados, amantes abandonadas, ancianos olvidados en el viaje, los bombardeos sobre la población indefensa, las artimañas para conseguir agua, comida y gasolina. A medida que los alemanes van tomando posesión del país, se vislumbra un desmoronamiento del orden social imperante y el nacimiento de una nueva época. La presencia de los invasores despertará odios, pero también historias de amor clandestinas y públicas muestras de colaboracionismo. Concebida como una composición en cinco partes —de las cuales la autora sólo alcanzó a escribir dos— Suite francesa combina un retrato intimista de la burguesía ilustrada con una visión implacable de la sociedad francesa durante la ocupación. Con lucidez, pero también con un desasosiego notablemente exento de sentimentalismo, Némirovsky muestra el fiel reflejo de una sociedad que ha perdido su rumbo. El tono realista y distante de Némirovsky le permite componer una radiografía fiel del país que la ha abandonado a su suerte y la ha arrojado en manos de sus verdugos. Estamos pues ante un testimonio profundo y conmovedor de la condición humana, escrito sin la facilidad de la distancia ni la perspectiva del tiempo, por alguien que no llegó a conocer siquiera el final del cataclismo que le tocó vivir.
added by Pakoniet | editLecturalia

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Irène Némirovskyprimary authorall editionscalculated
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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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)

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2 editions of this book were published by HighBridge.

Editions: 1598870203, 1615730419

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