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Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky
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Suite Française (2004)

by Irène Némirovsky

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

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,124257505 (3.97)1 / 559
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    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (albavirtual)
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    Brodeck's Report by Philippe Claudel (alalba)
    alalba: Two books about occupied France during WWII
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    Résistance: A Woman's Journal of Struggle and Defiance in Occupied France by Agnès Humbert (LisaCurcio)
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    Life and Fate by Vassili Grossman (chrisharpe)
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    The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich (albavirtual)
  10. 11
    The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy (Yervant)
    Yervant: Both works focus on German occupation during World War II, one in France, the other in Guernsey. The storyline of a local woman falling in love with a German occupier is also a common thread, (though more successful and believable in my opinion in Nemirovsky's work than in Leroy's.)… (more)
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    All Our Worldly Goods by Irène Némirovsky (KimB)
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    SqueakyChu: Both are novels that take place in Nazi-occupied France during WWII.
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    Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell (chrisharpe)
    chrisharpe: Nothing to do with France or WWII, but in many ways a similar, acutely observed portrait of village life, with an especially keen eye on the bourgeois class.
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English (227)  Spanish (10)  Italian (8)  Norwegian (3)  French (3)  Swedish (2)  Catalan (1)  German (1)  All languages (255)
Showing 1-5 of 227 (next | show all)
41. Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky (397 page e-book, Read July 9-22)

Instead of the book in mind I have the introduction from the French edition by Myriam Anissimov (which is at the very end in my Kindle Edition), and then the journal notes Nemirovsky wrote as she wrote the book, where, somewhat awkwardly, we read things she almost certainly never intended to share, her private thoughts on how the book would evolve, including the parts she was never able to write.

But before all that I read the terrific first two parts of a projected four or five part, 1000 page novel, one Nemirovsky saw as an effort toward a masterpiece. With vivid, and often hysterical characters, she chastises all ranks of Parisians for what is exposed as they flee Paris in front of the German invasion in 1939. This is easy reading, but fun and striking. In the second section she writes of occupation with the same penetrating depth of observation, but with a sincerity that rises above the humor.

I wonder what to make of the sum total, this window in France under German occupation, unfinished because the author was exterminated. This is not a political work. There is nothing Jewish in the novel, and there is nothing inhumane about the Germans. They are merely flawed young men, soldiers. It is a very human book, and it does, as she hoped it would, reach something timeless. This book is as good now as it would have been in 1942, or will be to one who, in some future somewhere, won't have any clear notion of this world war. ( )
2 vote dchaikin | Jul 22, 2014 |
I wanted to like this, but found the audio wasn't holding my attention or interest. I stuck with it for a bit and got a little over halfway through before giving up. This is one that I've been wanting to read for years, and I might try it again with the actual book. But for now, the audio goes on the gave up shelf. ( )
  bookwormam | Jul 8, 2014 |
What a beautiful book and how sad that it wasn't finished. This unfinished novel was published in 2006 but was written by Nemirovsky during WWII. Nemirovsky was a Russian Jew who had converted to Catholicism and lived her whole adult life in France after her family fled the Bolshevik revolution. She was arrested and ended up being taken to Auschwitz and killed there. The manuscript for this book was saved by her daughter who was hidden by family friends during the war. The book is two complete parts of a novel that was intended to be 4 or 5 parts in total.

I was afraid that the back story of this novel would overshadow any merits of the writing, but I didn't find this to be the case. I really loved the characters, writing, and description of events. The first part is about the arrival of the Germans in France and the fleeing of the French. The second part explores the occupation and relationships between the French and the German soldiers in one small country village. Unfortunately, the two sections deal mainly with a different set of characters that are only partially connected. You can see how she intended to draw them all together, but it is in no way a completed work. This 369 page book should be a highly readable 1000 page novel. I thought is was pretty amazing that she was writing this as events were unfolding. When you read her diary entries that are included in an appendix, they drive home the point that this woman didn't know how the war would end while she was writing the book. It's hard to remember that since we know Germany lost in the end, but when she was writing this living in occupied France, that must have seemed hard to imagine. ( )
  japaul22 | Jun 12, 2014 |
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. ( )
  chrisblocker | May 24, 2014 |
It's possible I'll go back to this one when I'm in the right mood, but I just couldn't get into it. ( )
  REDonald | Apr 26, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 227 (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)
 

» 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
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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Dedication
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.
Quotations
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:01 -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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