Suite Francaise (Nemirovsky)

Suite Francaise 
Irene Nemirovsky, Trans., Sandra Smith, 2006
Random House
431 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781400096275

An extraordinary novel of life under Nazi occupation—recently discovered and published 64 years after the author's death in Auschwitz.

In the early 1940s, Irène Némirovsky was a successful writer living in Paris. But she was also Jewish, and in 1942 she was arrested and deported to Auschwitz.

Her two small daughters, aged 5 and 13, escaped, carrying with them, in a small suitcase, the manuscript—one of the great first-hand novelistic accounts of a way of life unravelling.

Part One—"A Storm in June"

Set in the chaos of the tumultuous exodus from Paris on the eve of the Nazi invasion. As the German army approaches, Parisians seize what belongings they can and flee the city, the wealthy and the poor alike searching for means to escape.

Thrown together under circumstances beyond their control, a group of families and individuals with nothing in common but the harsh demands of survival find themselves facing the annihilation of their world, and human nature is revealed for what it is—sometimes tender, sometimes terrifying.

Part Two—"Dolce"

Set in a German-occupied village near Paris, where, riven by jealousy and resentment, resistance and collaboration, the lives of the townspeople reveal nothing less than the essence of the French identity.

The delicate, secret love affair between a German soldier and the French woman in whose house he has been billeted plays out dangerously against the background of Occupation.

Suite Française is both a piercing record of its time, and a humane, profoundly moving work of art. Riveting, impossible to put down, it makes us witnesses to life as it was in wartime France, and leaves us wondering how we too might behave in such a perilous situation.

An immediate #1 bestseller in France, Suite Française has captured readers' imaginations not only for the tragic story of its author, and the circumstances of its rediscovery, but for its brilliantly subtle and compelling portrait of France under Occupation. (From the publisher.)

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