Karen's Reviews > Suite Française

Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky
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's review
Jun 05, 08

bookshelves: european-literature, ww2
Read in June, 2008

I have read several books about WW2, but most of them have focused on people's experiences in concentration camps and ghettos. This one primarily examines life in the French countryside during the German invasion and occupation--with some depictions of life in Paris during this time as well.

While I found the novel itself quite good, I have to concede that my reception of it got a big "bounce" by the circumstances of its writing and publication. The author composed this during the occupation and had plans to expand it into a "symphony" of five novellas. However, she was arrestested and being of frail health in horrid conditions soon died during her captivity. Her children had the manuscript for decades before realize what they had and finally publishing it. What a tribute to the power of the written word to survive such circumstances. The writing itself shows maturity, complexity, and poetry without becoming ornate or confusing--which is amazing, given that sheh didn't get a chance to edit as planned.
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