Annabelle's Reviews > Suite Française

Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky
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's review
Feb 12, 2008

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Read in January, 2008

The story of how Suite Francaise came to be written and discovered (a story that is included in the book's appendices) is, in some ways, more dramatic than the work itself. And it's hard critiquing something that essentially is an incomplete first draft the author scrawled on bits of paper while living in fear of Germans knocking on her door. Still, here goes:

The book is really two novellas, "Storm in June" and "Dolce." I found the former, about the French exodus from Paris after the Nazi invasion, more affecting--Nemirovsky conveys a relentless sense of panic and confusion that's made more terrifying with the knowledge that she was writing as or soon after the events took place. Her prose is lyrical but not old-fashioned, and she examines themes painfully relevant to the wars taking place today. "Dolce" didn't draw me in as much, but I think it would have worked better if Nemirovsky would have been able to finish the later novellas in the "suite" as she had intended.

This makes a great book discussion book (I read it for a library discussion), but I only gave it three stars because it's just such a downer ... a worthy work, but not the thing if you're in the mood for an entertaining break.

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