Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Irene Nemirovsky, a Russian/French Jew, wrote this unfinished novel while hiding from the Nazis during World War II. Part one, "Storm in June," provides a glimpse into the lives of many different French persons as they flee Paris for anywhere that will provide them safety, food, and a drop of petrol. Part two,"Dolce," focuses on the villagers of one area and their interactions with the German soldiers who were assigned to live with each family.
Nemirovsky, writing as it was happening, intended this to be a novel in 5 parts, but she was captured and sent to a concentration camp, where she died, before she was able to complete it. Though unfinished, her collection here is well worth reading as two novellas. I love her descriptions of time and place. Her characterizations are wonderful. She was a gifted writer.
The best part of this novel for me, though, was the appendices. Appendix I is a reprinting of the author’s handwritten notes on her life in France during the war and her plans for the five-part novel. (She was only able to complete two parts before she was sent to a concentration camp.) Appendix II is a reprinting of correspondence between the author, her family, and her friends, both before and after she was sent to a concentration camp. It was heart wrenching.
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