Thursday, July 20, 2006

Irène Némirovsky's SUITE FRANÇAISE

Perhaps you've heard about SUITE FRANÇAISE by Irène Némirovsky. Living in Nazi-occupied Paris, the author planned to write five novellas inspired by the chaos that surrounded her. She ultimately completed two of the five before her arrest in July 1942. She later died in Auschwitz. Her daughters discovered the novellas sixty years after they were written. Starting today, copies of Suite Française are available for check-out from your branch's Popular Library (aka the "7-day" books).

From BOOKLETTERS (the Library's e-mail newsletter featuring periodic updates about must-read titles): Suite Francaise is an "extraordinary novel of life under Nazi occupation . . . . Subtle, often fiercely ironic, and deeply compassionate, Suite Francaise is both a piercing record of its time and a brilliant, profoundly moving work of art."

Reviews: Christian Science Monitor: "French critics hailed "Suite Française" as a masterpiece when it was first published there in 2004. They weren't exaggerating. The writing is accomplished, the plotting sure, and the fact that Némirovsky could write about events like the fall of Paris with such assurance and irony just weeks after they occurred is nothing short of astonishing. In her notes on the novels to come, the titles of Parts 4 and 5 are written with question marks - underscoring the fact that Némirovsky, and the rest of the world, still had no idea how the war would turn out. Of the two novellas, the first, "Storm in June," is the more impressive. It opens with an air raid, as the residents of Paris realize that there is no stopping the Nazis and simultaneously decide to hit the road. As E.L. Doctorow did last year in "The March," Némirovsky conjures up the confusion of the mass exodus by having the narrative jump from character to character."

Guardian Unlimited (UK). NPR. NPR (2). Twinsburg (Ohio) Public Library's book review blog.

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