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Suite Française

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  70,045 ratings  ·  6,564 reviews
The first two stories of a masterwork once thought lost, written by a pre-WWII bestselling author who was deported to Auschwitz and died before her work could be completed.

By the early l940s, when Ukrainian-born Irène Némirovsky began working on what would become Suite Française—the first two parts of a planned five-part novel—she was already a highly successful writer liv
Paperback, 431 pages
Published April 10th 2007 by Vintage (first published September 2004)
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Denise This is NOT a "romance" novel. It is a part of an unfinished 5-part novel. It is presented as connected vignettes about a group of people and what hap…moreThis is NOT a "romance" novel. It is a part of an unfinished 5-part novel. It is presented as connected vignettes about a group of people and what happens to them when France is invaded during WW2. Written in realistic terms about people who are experiencing the most unsettling events in their lives, many of whom act in ways which in calmer, more normal times would be bizzare and unthinkable. It is an interesting study of human nature when exposed to extremes and under dire threat. Meant to be a 5-part novel , the author died in Auschwitz 1942 with only 2 parts completed. Her daughters kept the manuscript while in hiding and later had it published in this form.

Romance? Hardly. For young teenagers? Hard to say - certainly not for the immature and that would be only because of the complex emotional content expressed. Lack of life experience may make that content difficult to understand. From a historical perspective, it is most interesting to read about how some people coped with the nightmarish circumstances of their country being invaded - not the most dramatic parts of such but in the day-to-day terms of such living. (less)
Tiffany This book is not Christian literature. This book is more centred on what was happening in France during the German Occupation in the Second World War.…moreThis book is not Christian literature. This book is more centred on what was happening in France during the German Occupation in the Second World War. There are characters that are Catholic that are present throughout this novel, but other than knowing they are Catholic (one of the characters is a priest) there's no mention of Christian themes. Nemirovsky wrote her book as a statement on what was going on in France during the war. So the characters represent the troubles that many of the French had to suffer through during those years.(less)

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Oct 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
A masterpiece. And this is the rough draft.

I've spent the last day trying to decide if I loved this book because I'm sentimental. The author, Irene Nemirovsky, was a Russian Jew who wrote this while living in occupied France. A respected author, she had married Micheal Epstein who had also fled Russia when the Bolsheviks revolted. They had sincerely adopted France as their home country, converted to Catholicism and were the parents of two daughters. She began writing this novel while simultaneou
Mar 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-novels
Unless you’re reading a memoir or autobiography, you usually aren’t conscious of an author’s presence in a book. I’m not talking about style. Obviously, there are times you can tell the provenance of a book, and know its creator, by skimming a few paragraphs. Short, punchy sentences, hyper-masculinity, and casual misogyny mean I’m reading Hemingway; if I can’t understand what I’m reading, it’s because I’m trying Faulkner; and if I’ve fallen asleep, I know I’ve got something by Melville in my han ...more
Tour de force!

What a breathtaking achievement - this novel is incredible! The story of how it was written is a dramatic witness account of the surreal world of France occupied by the Wehrmacht from 1940 on. Irène Némirovsky, of Jewish origin, wrote it while expecting to be deported to the East, and she had barely finished it when she was arrested in July 1942. She was murdered in Auschwitz, but her children survived, hidden until the end of the war. And with them, moving from one hiding place
Jim Fonseca
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: french-authors
This is a story of the invasion of Paris by the Germans in WW II (Part I) and the German occupation of a village outside of Paris (Part II). War brings out the best and worst in people and during the chaotic flight out of Paris (to which most of those who fled simply returned a week or two later) we see examples of great generosity and sharing but also people stealing food and gasoline from each other. The author follows the escapades of a variety of people from a cross-section of classes but sh ...more
Lord Beardsley
Apr 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in the human experience during war
Shelves: read2007
This book jolted me. It's rare when I read a book literally from cover to cover...and close it nearly in tears. This was witten as France was being occupied by the Nazis during the Second World War, thus, this may well be the first fictional account of World War Two as it was happening. Needless to say, this is an immensely important book and in my opinion should be required reading in history classes. This is an unfinished work by a Russian-French author who died in Auschwitz before she could c ...more
Apr 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this one up because it resembled a historical romance. (I believe the cover to be one of the most powerful and beautiful, & just o-so-right for this particular book that I could scream!) Then I found out what the tiny particles of pathos all seemed to portend: this was a posthumous work. Immediately the work becomes grounded--it easily turns into something more important, more adult, even more delicate. This is an incredible novel which may've easily been lost forever...! Yikes!!

Ahmad Sharabiani
Suite Française = French Suite, Irène Némirovsky

Suite Française is the title of a planned sequence of five novels by Irène Némirovsky, a French writer of Ukrainian-Jewish origin. In July 1942, having just completed the first two of the series, Némirovsky was arrested as a Jew and detained at Pithiviers and then Auschwitz, where she was murdered, a victim of the Holocaust. The notebook containing the two novels was preserved by her daughters but not examined until 1998. They were published in a s
Tea Jovanović
MUST READ! MUST READ! Wonderful unfinished novel by famous Jewish French author... Interesting story is behind publication of this novel... The manuscript stayed in a box for decades because the daughters of the author thought it is diary... but it was not... One of my favourite novels and I am proud that I was its Serbian editor... :)

U Srbiji je knjigu objavila Laguna... predivna knjiga... veoma dirljiva...
Mar 25, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The story of the author and how the book came to be published so many years after her death is a much more compelling story than this, although if Nemirovsky had the chance to complete the book to her vision I may think differently. As it is, the book was well-done in its portrayal of the many facets of human nature that show themselves in times of crises. Nemirovsky shows a sympathy for basic human responses, even if those reactions are abhorrent to common values and sentiments.

The book also po
Oct 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure which is more eerie: that this is a posthumous novel, or that the author knew it would be a posthumous novel; that had it not been for her daughters who carried it around as a notebook, this novel would not have surfaced, or that the book gave a vivid snapshot of the exodus from Paris which mother and daughters were experiencing at that moment; that her husband was killed for inquiring about his missing famous-writer wife, or that her daughters were then hunted down by the same madm ...more
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Misery and misfortune, misery and misfortune!...

You could smell the suffering in the air, in the silence.

Suite Française consists of two books “Storm in June” and “Dolce” both of which originally were supposed to be a part of 5 novels which were never written due to the author’s arrest and later her death at Auschwitz.
The handwritten manuscripts were hidden in a suitcase and later saved by the author's daughters.

To lift such a heavy weight Sisyphus, you will need all your courage. I do not lack
Megan Baxter
May 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Suite Francaise was a book that I wasn't sure about until I started to read it, and got swept up in the story, the characters, and Nemirovsky's merciless eye for human grace and ridiculousness, often both encapsulated in the same moments. The book covers the surrender of Paris, and the later occupation of a small town by the Germans, in two discrete sections, although a few characters bridge the gap.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enfo
Feb 06, 2008 rated it liked it
I really really wanted to love this book... Instead I'm having a hard time deciding what I really think about it, other than that I pushed through it to finish.

WWII is a somber subject, no way around it and so, of course, the book is somber. But even somber subjects can be compelling and I had a hard time finding a reason to be compelled...

There are two "books" within the cover and I feel like I need to review each quickly but separately. (perhaps this is part of my struggle - it felt almost lik
Sasha, the woman in love with Volodea, in Shiskin's " The Light and the Dark" tells her lover, in one of the letter sent, that, thinking better, realized that no great book and no work of genius is about love.
" It just gives the impression that they are about love, to be interesting. But in fact, they are about death. In books, love is a kind of shield, or rather - a kind of scarf over the eyes ; so that you cannot see. For not to be frightened. "
The biography of the writer Nemirovski , as well
Seth T.
Feb 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in the affects of war on the conquered
Shelves: bookclub
Recognizing beforehand that this wouldn't be a complete story arc, I had to try to approach the book without any prejudice toward it for having a weak ending (i.e., no ending). Unfinished books can be interesting to read to view the storytelling process in the midst of its evolution, but are rarely satisfying as stories in their own right. Némirovsky's work here is perhaps more polished than a simple draft, but even her notes suggest that the finished chapters and two volumes that *were* publish ...more
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
I realise that left Suite Francaise on my shelves for too long. I bought it because it was a well-loved bestseller, but I delayed the read because I mistook it for a historical war-romance novel (I find myself in the minority when it comes to my opinions on the genre, e.g. my bad experience with The Nightingale).
This book pleasantly surprised me. This is not an action book like so many others set in wartime France. There are no acts of bravery and no heroes here, no linear story line. The book
Alice Poon
Apr 27, 2020 rated it liked it
I had picked up this novel at a library book sale several years ago and finally got to reading it. I am not a huge fan of WWII novels. This particular novel attracted my attention mainly due to the fact that the author had lived through the war in France.

The novel consists of the first two parts of a planned five-part epic, which the author was never able to finish as she was arrested shortly after completing those two parts and taken to Auschwitz to be executed.

Part One (The Storm) is a chronic
"I'm asking you, if you have any feelings for me, to be as careful as possible with your life."
"Because it is precious to you?" he asked nervously.
"Yes. Because it is precious to me."

A beautifully textured, honest portrait of humanity and tragic prescience coupled with a thoroughly moving romance.

I'm frequently disgusted by the contemporary novels that romanticize or sentimentalize this time period. Cloying romances masquerading as gritty historical fiction where the war functions primarily as
Mar 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
It is near on impossible to review this book without first mentioning the author Irene Nemirovsky. A Russian born Jew, settled in France and converted to Catholicism, she started to write Suite Francaise in 1940, two years before her death in Auschwitz. The two novellas included here are the only two completed out of the five that she had planned.

The first, Storm in June, introduces us to the characters as we follow them during the exodus from Paris, fleeing from the German occupiers. There are
Jun 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
What a fabulous book. Thought-provoking, beautifully written, sad and yet oddly hopeful. Romantic, violent and unflinching. Irene Nemirovsky was a Russian Jew who became exiled from Russia at a young age & had lived in France for many years by the outbreak of the Second World War. Despite being a well-known writer, she was never granted French citizenship. She started Suite Francaise after the outbreak of the war in Europe, wanting to document what she saw going on around her. She planned to wri ...more
Branwen Sedai *of the Brown Ajah*
It's a truism that people are complicated, multifaceted, contradictory, surprising, but it takes the advent of war or other momentous events to be able to see it. It is the most fascinating and the most dreadful of spectacles, the most dreadful because it's so real; you can never pride yourself on truly knowing the sea unless you've seen it both calm and in a storm. Only the person who has observed men and women at times like this can be said to know them. And to know themselves.

This book begins
Maria Hill AKA MH Books
This book was intended by the author a great opus to the lives of the French during the occupation of World War II, a kind of War and Peace. It was mean’t to be a five part novel but was unfortunately never finished due to Némirovsky’s death in Auschwitz. It is never the less a fascinating insight into French society in 1940 and 1941.

Némirovsky creates characters that are flawed and nearly always both arrogant and selfish. However, each one is beautifully, beautifully drawn. She describes the i
Such a sadness that Irène Némirovsky never finished this work. Written during the Occupation of France and describing its events, it’s almost a contemporaneous description of life in Occupied France. The two parts that do exist suggest that it would have been a magisterial work. Part 1, Tempête en Juin, describes the flight from Paris of four families and is clearly the more polished of the two parts. Part 2, Dolce, feels more unbalanced. A critical killing that takes place towards the end feels ...more
Paris, June 1940. Word is spreading like a stain that the Germans are only days away from invading the city. It takes a while for the people to believe it, and still longer for them to pack - slinging mattresses on top of their cars, storing linens and tableware in trunks - but when the exodus occurs it clogs the streets and the railway and thousands are left to walk the country roads while those in motorcars honk and swear at them for taking up all the road.

The Germans are everywhere, it seems.
Jul 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Némirovsky was a Russian Jew who emigrated as a child to France. There, she became a popular and successful writer, converted to Roman Catholicism, became an anti-semite who associated with right-wing (fascist) writers and editors, but who by 1942 was deported to Auschwitz and gassed. Her husband was murdered soon afterwards. She left a lengthy manuscript in a diary that was in the possession of her daughter, who refused to look at it all her life -- thinking it was only a diary and that reading ...more
Inderjit Sanghera
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Irène Némirovsky’s unfinished and unpolished opus Suite Française reads somewhat anachronistically; like a composite of 19th century French Literary cliches; the larger than life characters, such as the disaffected and ribaldorous intellectual Gabriel Corte, the cynical aristocrat Charles Langelet and the naive yet heroic Hubert are characters straight out of Hugo and Stendhal; pale caricatures and echoes of well-established literary types, their motives and dialogues can come across as slightly ...more
Nov 15, 2016 rated it did not like it
1 Star - Horrible book, don't even bother reading the back cover.

I tried really, really really hard to like this book. I held out hope up until the very end but I just couldn't find anything I enjoyed about it. I think I wanted to like it so hard because of the author's tragic story. Irène Némirovsky was living in France and deported to Auschwitz before she could finish her book. A horrible fate of course, but I still couldn't bring myself to like it.

I found the story dull, just incredibly dull
Jul 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I reread Suite Francaise, one of my absolute favourite books, whilst in France over Easter. It is even more beautiful than I remember it being. All of Nemirovsky's novels are sweeping masterpieces, but she perhaps reached the pinnacle here. I can think of very few novels which even touch this one in their brilliance and evocation. Nemirovsky's descriptions are, of course, sublime, and the novel is - like all of her work - peopled with a complex cast of realistic characters. An incredibly insight ...more
Classic reverie
Every New Year, I re-read a favorite novel and I was also looking for highlighting and taking notes for Irene Nemirovsky's "Suite Francaise". I remember the effect this novel had on me years ago, after another read, it is even more brilliant, one of my ultimate favorite novels. I suppose what touches me most is that Irene had lived those horrors and knew she had not much longer to live. It is important to read her notes and her letters after the story to fully grasp all. My review from years ago ...more
Jan Rice
When I finished this book I got rid of it. I can probably count on one hand the books I've given away, at least in adulthood. I donated it to the library.

I read about this book, about how her daughters had held onto the manuscript after she was sent to the concentration camps and how it had recently been published. Exciting! The library didn't have the audio version yet, and I wanted it so I could listen as I drove back and forth to work, so I said I wanted for my birthday or some other occasion
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Irène Némirovsky was born in Kiev in 1903 into a successful banking family. Trapped in Moscow by the Russian Revolution, she and her family fled first to a village in Finland, and eventually to France, where she attended the Sorbonne.

Irène Némirovsky achieved early success as a writer: her first novel, David Golder, published when she was twenty-six, was a sensation. By 1937 she had published nine

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“Adieu," he said, "this is goodbye. I'll never forget you, never."
She stood silent. He looked at her and saw her eyes full of tears. He turned away.
At this moment she wasn't ashamed of loving him, because her physical desire had gone and all she felt towards him now was pity and a profound, almost maternal tenderness. She forced herself to smile. "Like the Chinese mother who sent her son off to war telling him to be careful 'because war has its dangers,' I'm asking you, if you have any feelings for me, to be as careful as possible with your life."
Because it is precious to you?" he asked nervously.
Yes. Because it is precious to me.”
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