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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
9,619335711 (3.97)1 / 714
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)
Recently added byrdey, ginsbooks, HAITUNA, debi42s, jtrevett, Danniroo, fi_wilkes, private library, Zola2000, thesummitva
Legacy LibrariesLeslie Scalapino
  1. 60
    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (albavirtual)
  2. 72
    Atonement by Ian McEwan (Queenofcups)
  3. 50
    All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (charlie68)
    charlie68: Both books take place in France during the Second World War.
  4. 40
    The Diary of Anne Frank: A Play in Two Acts by Frances Goodrich (albavirtual)
  5. 40
    War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (chrisharpe)
  6. 20
    Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman (chrisharpe)
  7. 21
    Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: Both are novels that take place in Nazi-occupied France during WWII.
  8. 10
    A Princess in Berlin by Arthur R. G. Solmssen (albavirtual)
  9. 10
    Brodeck's Report by Philippe Claudel (alalba)
    alalba: Two books about occupied France during WWII
  10. 10
    Resistance: A Frenchwoman's Journal of the War by Agnès Humbert (LisaCurcio)
  11. 11
    The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (pdebolt)
    pdebolt: Both are very powerful books about German-occupied France during WWII and the role of women.
  12. 00
    Yellow Tapers for Paris by Bruce Marshall (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Both are fiction, written during and/or immediately after the occupation and showing significant reflection.
  13. 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)
  14. 00
    A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary by Marta Hillers (VenusofUrbino)
  15. 00
    The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck (chrisharpe)
  16. 11
    All Our Worldly Goods by Irène Némirovsky (KimB)
  17. 01
    To Siberia by Per Petterson (TeeKay)
  18. 02
    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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» See also 714 mentions

English (293)  Spanish (13)  Italian (9)  French (5)  Swedish (3)  Catalan (3)  Norwegian (3)  German (2)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (332)
Showing 1-5 of 293 (next | show all)
Suite Francaise takes place in Nazi occupied France in the 1940's. It focuses on the lives of various different people - - wealthy, poor, and middle class - - as they react to the prospect of Paris being bombed. It then moves on to a single town and paints a detailed portrait of what it was like to live in a village with the Nazi soldiers right there beside the French.

If I were merely evaluating this book on the writing alone - - well it would be five star PLUS. Goodness, this woman can craft a sentence. Her details are specific, important, and immediately give you a perfect sense of place, person, or time. Incredible. And she sustains the level of prose throughout. To me, had she been able to continue to write, she probably would have been a writer of some great classics. She's just that type of writer -- truly gifted.

Unfortunately, for me, sheer enjoyment plays a factor in my ratings, and I think I didn't quite get to know the characters well enough to feel emotionally attached to them. This book has a lot of sad, and what should have been touching, events in it. And somehow, I just wasn't really feeling them like I did in say - - The Road or The Book Thief. If this book was a movie, it would be described as an "ensemble" cast. You meet many characters, and you do get a picture of who they are, but you don't get to know many of them well.

However, it really is a terrific book - - made more astounding by the background story of the author (which is included in an extensive end note). I was definitely GLAD I read it - - so thanks to the many PBTers who picked it for me this month!!!
( )
  Anita_Pomerantz | Mar 23, 2023 |
This novel contains two separate parts related through setting and time period. The first is a story of the attempt to flee France in advance of the German invasion in 1940. The second is set in rural France during the German occupation and tells of how the families of the town interacted with the German soldiers.

I have read reviews that say some people are tired of books set in World War II. Here’s my attempt to convince them to at least consider this one:
- It was written contemporaneously (in 1940-1941).
- It is not just a modern story using the war as a backdrop.
- It is set in occupied France and provides a first-hand perspective.
- It is not a book about horrors of the concentration camps.
- It is beautifully written.
- It is historically significant. The author was a Jewish woman who was killed at Auschwitz in 1942, only a year after she finished the first two of what were supposed to be five segments of Suite Française. Her children brought out the manuscript and it was finally published in 2004.

I appreciated the many small and poignant scenes that provide a sense of the shock and denial experienced by people in the face of imminent war. For example, as a family begins to flee their home, the servants are packing the car: “If you listened closely, you could hear the sound of planes in the sky. French or enemy? No one knew… It was impossible to make the servants listen to reason. They were trembling with fear. Even though they wanted to leave too, their need to follow a routine was stronger than their terror, and they insisted on doing everything as they had always done when getting ready to go to the countryside for the summer holidays…They were living two different moments, half in the present and half deep in the past, as if what was happening could only seep into a small part of their consciousness, the most superficial part, leaving all the deeper regions peacefully asleep.”

The Notes at the end bumped the rating to 5 stars, as they are a moving testament to a real family’s tragedy. They include the author’s plans for the rest of the novel and letters written by her husband to the authorities after she was arrested, trying to find out where she was being held. His emotional pleas are heart-breaking. It is a real example of just one of many tragedies that occurred during the Holocaust. ( )
1 vote Castlelass | Jan 12, 2023 |
There are 333 reviews listed on LibraryThing and so I need not add much to what has already been said. I am therefore just going to give my impressions of this excellent book. Némirovsky was born in Kiev, she was jewish, but by the time she was writing the Suite française she had lived in France for over 20 years and had become a french national and converted to christianity. The first book tells of the flight from Paris just before the nazi invasion in 1940 and the second depicts a small town under Nazi occupation in 1941. Two events of which Némirovsky had first hand knowledge.

The story of the flight from Paris: 'tempête en juin' tells the story of several peoples experiences as the sought to escape the Nazis. There is the wealthy family Pericaud in their charabanc of cars taking everything they can with them, including Arthur the cat. Gabriel Corte a famous and well connected author is fleeing with his mistress. Charles Longelat a wealthy collector of porcelain and finally the banker Corbin and two of his employees les Michauds are all on the road. A good mix of the layers of society of Paris, who meet other people along the way in the confusion of the flight. It is the confusion in the fog of war that is well depicted here. The Germans are faceless invaders, bombing, shelling and strafing the towns and the countryside, the only soldiers that are met are the rags and tags of the defeated french army. Nemirovsky skilfully changes her POV from one character to another, including a memorable sequence describing Arthur the cat adapting to his new territory.

The second book Dolce is the more involving of the two books. A small town adapting to life under German occupation. The shortage of men who have either been killed or are prisoners of the Germans; place intolerable pressures on the women folk left behind. At the time 1941 after the defeat of the french army and the signing of the armistice it would appear that the Germans would be in France for some time. To what extent should the French citizens collaborate with the occupiers? Némirovsky observes that collaboration was more likely to occur in the upper levels of society. The rich and well connected town folk were more interested in keeping hold of their wealth and their position in society than being patriotic french citizens. They had more in common with the higher ranking German officers than the working citizens in the town.

The book was written more or less contemporaneously by the author who was murdered in the gas chambers in 1942. At the time of writing she did not know the outcome of the war and so her viewpoint was not affected by subsequent history. Again in the second book she is able to change her POV from character to character, emphasising the enormous gaps between the high born, the nouveaux rich, the tradespeople and the agricultural workers.
A revealing document and some excellent writing make this a five star read. ( )
  baswood | Nov 7, 2022 |
How come I didn't know the author or this book, I asked myself? Turns out the text went missing when the author was sent from occupied France to Auschwitz in 1942, only rediscovered about 2004, with Sandra Smith's excellent translation published in 2006. Now regretting that I have neither the time nor the language skills to read the original French. What writing. ( )
  NaggedMan | Oct 18, 2022 |
  archivomorero | Jun 27, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 293 (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 (7 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
Moldenhauer, EvaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Olsson, DagmarTranslatorsecondary 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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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.

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2 editions of this book were published by HighBridge.

Editions: 1598870203, 1615730419

HighBridge Audio

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

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