Joyce's Reviews > Suite Française

Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky
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Aug 09, 07

Recommended for: Everyone
Read in August, 2007

I can't imagine what the other novellas would have read like since this wonderful 2 part novella remained hidden due to the author Irene Nemirov's unfortunate demise in Auschwitz. The book was originally intended to be written in 5 parts, but only two were completed. Nimerov's daughters recently found this manuscript and hence a wonderful, honest, insightful, and wonderfully written novel was given life.
Nemirov's lush prose brings the reader back to early 1940's when the French were invaded by the Germans.

Both novellas tell the tale of the German occupation through the eyes of several French families and individuals cutting across social lines, and giving an extremely human point of view of how people act under duress. I very much enjoyed how Nemirov was able to make the German characters 3 dimensional, this was touching and profound, especially since most written accounts portray the Germans as monsters, albeit deservedly, but they were also people who had lives before the war. "Ensuite Francaise" is a book about people, and how captors interact with victors, as well as how one is able to reconcile one's dignity in the face of adversity, thus, struggling to remain loyal to country, self, and family when finding out the captor has a heart.

I enjoyed Nemirov's rich prose and descriptive passages of not only the characters, but the landscape, exposing the inner most feelings of the protagonists thought process. I also enjoyed how although the stories were distinctive, the characters connected in some small way making the reader feel as if they were reading a novel instead of a novella. Isn’t that what life is all about anyway? Connections… It's heartbreaking that someone with so much talent came to such a cruel ending. I am happy, as I am sure others are who enjoyed this novel, that Nemirov was once again discovered, and those of us who had never heard of her, now know her name.
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