Suite Francaise

Kobo ebook | March 18, 2009

byIrene Nemirovsky

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Suite Française is both a brilliant novel of wartime and an extraordinary historical document. An unmatched evocation of the exodus from Paris after the German invasion of 1940, and of life under the Nazi occupation, it was written by the esteemed French novelist Irène Némirovsky as events unfolded around her. This haunting masterpiece has been hailed by European critics as a War and Peace for the Second World War.

Though she conceived the book as a five-part work (based on the form of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony), Irène Némirovsky was able to write only the first two parts, Storm in June and Dolce, before she was arrested in July 1942. She died in Auschwitz the following month. The manuscript was saved by her young daughter Denise; it was only decades later that Denise learned that what she had imagined was her mother’s journal was in fact an invaluable work of art.

Storm in June takes place in the tumult of the evacuation from Paris in 1940, just before the arrival of the invading German army. It moves vividly between different levels of society–from the wealthy Péricand family, whose servants pack up their possessions for them, to a group of orphans from the 16th arrondissement escaping in a military truck. Némirovsky’s immense canvas includes deserting soldiers and terrified secretaries, cynical bank directors and hapless priests, egotistical writers and hardscrabble prostitutes–all thrown together in a chaotic attempt to escape the capital. Moving between them chapter by chapter, this thrilling novel describes a journey hampered and in some cases abandoned because of confusion, shelling, rumour, lack of supplies, bad luck and ordinary human weakness. Cars break down or are stolen; relatives are forgotten; friends are divided; but there are also moments of love and charity. Throughout, whether depicting saintly forbearance or the basest selfishness, Storm in June neither sweetens nor demonizes its characters; unsentimentally, with stunning perceptiveness, Némirovsky shows the complexities that mean no-one is simply a hero or villain.

The second volume, Dolce, is set in the German-occupied village of Bussy. Again, Némirovsky switches seamlessly between social strata, from tenant farmers to the local aristocracy. The focus, however, is on the delicate, secret love affair between a German soldier and the French woman in whose house he has been billeted; the passion, doubts and deceits of their burgeoning relationship echo the complex mixture of hostility and acceptance felt by the occupied community as a whole. Némirovsky is amazingly sensitive in her depiction of changing, often contradictory emotions, but her attention to the personal is matched by her sharp-eyed discussion of small-town life and the politics of occupation. In this myth-dissolving book, the French villagers see the Germans as oppressive warriors, but also as handsome young men, and occupation does nothing to remedy the condescension and envy that bedevil relations between rich and poor.

Quite apart from the astonishing story of its survival, Suite Française is a novel of genius and lasting artistic value. Subtle, often fiercely ironic, and deeply compassionate, it is both a piercing record of its time and a humane, profoundly moving novel.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Suite Francaise

Kobo ebook | March 18, 2009
Available for download Not available in stores

Imagine you are living your life almost as you have always lived it, affected only by the reality that some of your country's young men have been called to serve in a war that is happening not all that far from your borders. Imagine then that the unthinkable happens and you learn that in a few short hours the enemy will be on your door step...

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From the Publisher

Suite Française is both a brilliant novel of wartime and an extraordinary historical document. An unmatched evocation of the exodus from Paris after the German invasion of 1940, and of life under the Nazi occupation, it was written by the esteemed French novelist Irène Némirovsky as events unfolded around her. This haunting masterpiece...

Format:Kobo ebookPublished:March 18, 2009Publisher:Knopf CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307371204

ISBN - 13:9780307371201

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Customer Reviews of Suite Francaise


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful prose I highly recommend this book - it's been several years since I read it, but when I remember back to when I was reading it, I almost re-experience the depth of emotions that it evoked. Writing about war well is undoubtedly difficult, particularly as experiences of war and conflict are so diverse and differentiated, which this book captures well.
Date published: 2015-01-08
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Great cover The cover is stunning and the reviews were so glowing for this book that I had to buy it. I forced myself to read page after page, chapter after chapter hoping to get to a point where I would be mesmerized and compelled to finish it. This never happened and after struggling through almost half the book, I gave up. I found it very difficult to follow. The switching back and forth of characters was poorly done and did nothing to enhance the story. Very disappointed. "You can't judge a book by its cover" is so true. Lesson learned.
Date published: 2006-10-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Elegance in Simplicity With the simplest of language, we are transported into the devastation that The Second World War wrought on the civilian population of continental Europe. Every time we close the book, we are reminded of the useless wasted potential of a single artist. The history of how Ms. Nemirovsky's daughter discovered the mauscript is interesting, but ultimately fades in the shadow of her mother's monumental oeuvre - which in turn fades in the darkness of the tragedy which overtook Europe and prevented her from working, raising her daughters, and continuing a productive and happy life.
Date published: 2006-08-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Understated Treasure - Must Read!! Initially, I was hesitant to pick this up mainly because I'm not a huge fan of books based on wars from either WWI nor WWII. However, just reading the first chapter, with its stark rich text made me think otherwise. What differentiate this book from being just good is how Nemirovsky exposes the human element, showing us both the beautiful and the vile against such turbulent times. Moreover, as a reader, I was seduced by the feelings protrayed, where induced by reality of war, the characters reveal their moral fabric. As the books focus on the stories of five main families, and how their destiny's weave them together, I am heartbroken that the other three books will never come to be.
Date published: 2006-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unique look at WWII Not what I was expecting, but in a good way, Suite Francaise is a unique look at how Parisians of different classes and walks of life dealt with the threat of invasion. Well written and with characters that really came to life, the only disappointment was that Nemirovsky was not able to finish her masterpiece.
Date published: 2006-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incedibly Moving I loved this book! I was immediately taken in by the charaters and the surrealness of the situation they found themselves living in. I absolutely could not put this book down. I think the ending was probably the most symbolic aspect of this book and brought to mind all the lives that were tragically cut short. Read this book!
Date published: 2006-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! I could not stop reading this book and was sad when I reached the last page. Very moving portrayal of the time and excellent development of the characters. Especially poignant considering the circumstances in which it was written. Makes one think about how the world might have been had the victims of this time survived to fullfill their vocations. Imagine the writers, the scientists, the teachers, etc who were lost during this terrible period in history. Lest we forget.
Date published: 2006-06-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Too good to put down! From the first sentence this book captured my imagination. It took me back to a time in history we all read about, but cannot fathom the events described taking place. Somehow Nemirovsky has the skill to put us there, to humanize the moral dilemas people face when they have to choose survival or death. As horrific as war is, this book was just too good to put down!
Date published: 2006-06-01