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Suite Francaise: A Novel

by

Suite Francaise: A Novel Cover

 

Awards

Winner of France's 2004 Prix Renaudot

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

By the early l940s, when Ukranian-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 living in Paris. But she was also a Jew, and in 1942 she was arrested and deported to Auschwitz: a month later she was dead at the age of thirty-nine. Two years earlier, living in a small village in central France — where she, her husband, and their two small daughters had fled in a vain attempt to elude the Nazis — she'd begun her novel, a luminous portrayal of a human drama in which she herself would become a victim. When she was arrested, she had completed two parts of the epic, the handwritten manuscripts of which were hidden in a suitcase that her daughters would take with them into hiding and eventually into freedom. Sixty-four years later, at long last, we can read Némirovsky's literary masterpiece.

The first part, "A Storm in June," opens in the chaos of the massive 1940 exodus from Paris on the eve of the Nazi invasion during which several families and individuals are thrown together under circumstances beyond their control. They share nothing but the harsh demands of survival — some trying to maintain lives of privilege, others struggling simply to preserve their lives — but soon, all together, they will be forced to face the awful exigencies of physical and emotional displacement, and the annihilation of the world they know. In the second part, "Dolce," we enter the increasingly complex life of a German-occupied provincial village. Coexisting uneasily with the soldiers billeted among them, the villagers — from aristocrats to shopkeepers to peasants — cope as best they can. Some choose resistance, others collaboration, and as their community is transformed by these acts, the lives of these these men and women reveal nothing less than the very essence of humanity.

Suite Française is a singularly piercing evocation — at once subtle and severe, deeply compassionate and fiercely ironic — of life and death in occupied France, and a brilliant, profoundly moving work of art.

Review:

"Celebrated in pre-WWII France for her bestselling fiction, the Jewish Russian-born Némirovsky was shipped to Auschwitz in the summer of 1942, months after this long-lost masterwork was composed. Némirovsky, a convert to Catholicism, began a planned five-novel cycle as Nazi forces overran northern France in 1940. This gripping 'suite,' collecting the first two unpolished but wondrously literary sections of a work cut short, have surfaced more than six decades after her death. The first, 'Storm in June,' chronicles the connecting lives of a disparate clutch of Parisians, among them a snobbish author, a venal banker, a noble priest shepherding churlish orphans, a foppish aesthete and a loving lower-class couple, all fleeing city comforts for the chaotic countryside, mere hours ahead of the advancing Germans. The second, 'Dolce,' set in 1941 in a farming village under German occupation, tells how peasant farmers, their pretty daughters and petit bourgeois collaborationists coexisted with their Nazi rulers. In a workbook entry penned just weeks before her arrest, Némirovsky noted that her goal was to describe 'daily life, the emotional life and especially the comedy it provides.' This heroic work does just that, by focusing — with compassion and clarity — on individual human dramas." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"This extraordinary work of fiction about the German occupation of France is embedded in a real story as gripping and complex as the invented one. Composed in 1941-42 by an accomplished writer who had published several well-received novels, 'Suite Francaise,' her last work, was written under the tremendous pressure of a constant danger that was to catch up with her and kill her before she had finished.

... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"[G]randly symphonic, courageous, and scathing....[A] magnificent novel of the insidious devastation of occupation, and Némirovsky is brilliant and heroic....Everything about this transcendent novel is miraculous." Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"[A] hugely ambitious novel....A valuable window into the past, and the human psyche. This is important work." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"[S]tunning....[Némirovsky] wrote what may be the first work of fiction about what we now call World War II. She also wrote, for all to read at last, some of the greatest, most humane and incisive fiction that conflict has produced." Paul Gray, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"[Némirovsky's] talent was quite considerable and her personal story rather moving and awful....These are two beautifully restrained novels about the chaos and suffering immediately following the fall of Paris..." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"A uniquely resonant picture of France defeated and occupied, a book of exceptional literary quality — it has the kind of intimacy found in the diary of Anne Frank." Times Literary Supplement (UK)

Review:

"An heroic attempt to write a nightmare in which the author is actually embedded." Anita Brookner, The Spectator (UK)

Review:

"An exceptionally forceful and frank testimony....Like The Diary of Anne Frank, Suite Française is a real find; it excels both from a literary and historical perspective. A masterpiece." L'Express (France)

Review:

"Remarkable as the story of the publication of Suite Française is, it will finally be of anecdotal interest compared with the importance of the book. Here is the work of a fine novelist at the top of her form, writing about the fate for her adopted country with a pitiless clarity." The Evening Standard (UK)

Review:

"It's evident from the novel's bravura beginning that we're in the presence of something exceptional. In two panoramic pages Némirovsky evokes not just a few Parisians' response to the latest air raid, but the entire city's." Newsday

Synopsis:

An immediate #1 bestseller in France, Suite Française has captured readers' imaginations not only for the tragic story of its author, and the circumstances of its rediscovery, but for its brilliantly subtle and compelling portrait of France under Occupation.

Synopsis:

The first English publication of Suite Française will be a major event. Suite Française is an extraordinary novel of life under Nazi occupation — recently discovered and published 64 years after the author's death in Auschwitz.

Synopsis:

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 living in Paris. But she was also a Jew, and in 1942 she was arrested and deported to Auschwitz: a month later she was dead at the age of thirty-nine. Two years earlier, living in a small village in central France—where she, her husband, and their two small daughters had fled in a vain attempt to elude the Nazis—shed begun her novel, a luminous portrayal of a human drama in which she herself would become a victim. When she was arrested, she had completed two parts of the epic, the handwritten manuscripts of which were hidden in a suitcase that her daughters would take with them into hiding and eventually into freedom. Sixty-four years later, at long last, we can read Némirovskys literary masterpiece

The first part, “A Storm in June,” opens in the chaos of the massive 1940 exodus from Paris on the eve of the Nazi invasion during which several families and individuals are thrown together under circumstances beyond their control. They share nothing but the harsh demands of survival—some trying to maintain lives of privilege, others struggling simply to preserve their lives—but soon, all together, they will be forced to face the awful exigencies of physical and emotional displacement, and the annihilation of the world they know. In the second part, “Dolce,” we enter the increasingly complex life of a German-occupied provincial village. Coexisting uneasily with the soldiers billeted among them, the villagers—from aristocrats to shopkeepers to peasants—cope as best they can. Some choose resistance, others collaboration, and as their community is transformed by these acts, the lives of these these men and women reveal nothing less than the very essence of humanity.

Suite Française is a singularly piercing evocation—at once subtle and severe, deeply compassionate and fiercely ironic—of life and death in occupied France, and a brilliant, profoundly moving work of art.

Synopsis:

The first English publication of Suite Française will be a major event. Suite Française is an extraordinary novel of life under Nazi occupation – recently discovered and published 64 years after the author’s death in Auschwitz.

In the early 1940s, Irène Némirovsky was a successful writer living in Paris. But she was also Jewish, and in 1942 she was arrested and deported to Auschwitz. Her two small daughters, aged 5 and 13, escaped, carrying with them, in a small suitcase, the manuscript – one of the great first-hand novelistic accounts of a way of life unravelling.

Part One, “A Storm in June,” is set in the chaos of the tumultuous exodus from Paris on the eve of the Nazi invasion. As the German army approaches, Parisians seize what belongings they can and flee the city, the wealthy and the poor alike searching for means to escape. Thrown together under circumstances beyond their control, a group of families and individuals with nothing in common but the harsh demands of survival find themselves facing the annihilation of their world, and human nature is revealed for what it is – sometimes tender, sometimes terrifying. Part Two, “Dolce,” is set in a German-occupied village near Paris, where, riven by jealousy and resentment, resistance and collaboration, the lives of the townspeople reveal nothing less than the essence of the French identity. The delicate, secret love affair between a German soldier and the French

woman in whose house he has been billeted plays out dangerously against the background of Occupation.

Suite Française is both a piercing record of its time, and a humane, profoundly moving work of art. Riveting, impossible to put down, it makes us witnesses to life as it was in wartime France, and leaves us wondering how we too might behave in such a perilous situation.

An immediate #1 bestseller in France, Suite Française has captured readers’ imaginations not only for the tragic story of its author, and the circumstances of its rediscovery, but for its brilliantly subtle and compelling portrait of France under Occupation.

About the Author

Irène Némirovsky was born in Kiev in 1903 into a successful banking family and fled to France during the Russian Revolution. After attending the Sorbonne, she began to write and swiftly achieved success with her first novel, David Golder, which was followed by The Ball, The Flies of Autumn, Dogs and Wolves, and The Courilof Affair. When the Germans occupied France in 1940, she moved with her husband and two small daughters, age 5 and 13, from Paris to the comparative safety of Issy-L’Evêque. It was here that she secretly began writing Suite Française. She was killed in Auschwitz in 1942.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Lucy Little, January 17, 2008 (view all comments by Lucy Little)
This is an extraordinary book. Along with being a great writer, the author conveys so many cultural nuances that only someone present at the time could imagine. Her heartbreaking true story adds to the brilliance of the book, but even without that, the book is a masterpiece. What a treasure her daughter was able to share with the world. This book rose immediately into my personal top ten list.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(9 of 12 readers found this comment helpful)
Cacornell, June 11, 2007 (view all comments by Cacornell)
One of the best books I've read in a long time. How beautifully this author writes! There is of course poignancy added because of her untimely death - but the book stands on its own merits. I can't stop thinking about the characters.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(14 of 19 readers found this comment helpful)
dallastoportland, February 22, 2007 (view all comments by dallastoportland)
Best book I have read in years. An unbelievable story. How this is not on the years best list of every reader is a mystery to me! Journals discovered by author's daughter, almost 60 years after her death (during WW2 in a concentration camp), bring to life an authentic experience. Not to be missed.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(15 of 23 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 3 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400044733
Author:
Nemirovsky, Irene
Publisher:
Alfred A. Knopf
Translator:
Smith, Sandra
Author:
Smith, Sandra
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
World war, 1939-1945
Subject:
History
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
World War, 1939-1945 -- France.
Subject:
France - History - German occupation, 1940-
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st U.S. ed.
Publication Date:
April 11, 2006
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
416
Dimensions:
9.48x6.56x1.36 in. 1.71 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Suite Francaise: A Novel New Hardcover
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Product details 416 pages Alfred A. Knopf - English 9781400044733 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Celebrated in pre-WWII France for her bestselling fiction, the Jewish Russian-born Némirovsky was shipped to Auschwitz in the summer of 1942, months after this long-lost masterwork was composed. Némirovsky, a convert to Catholicism, began a planned five-novel cycle as Nazi forces overran northern France in 1940. This gripping 'suite,' collecting the first two unpolished but wondrously literary sections of a work cut short, have surfaced more than six decades after her death. The first, 'Storm in June,' chronicles the connecting lives of a disparate clutch of Parisians, among them a snobbish author, a venal banker, a noble priest shepherding churlish orphans, a foppish aesthete and a loving lower-class couple, all fleeing city comforts for the chaotic countryside, mere hours ahead of the advancing Germans. The second, 'Dolce,' set in 1941 in a farming village under German occupation, tells how peasant farmers, their pretty daughters and petit bourgeois collaborationists coexisted with their Nazi rulers. In a workbook entry penned just weeks before her arrest, Némirovsky noted that her goal was to describe 'daily life, the emotional life and especially the comedy it provides.' This heroic work does just that, by focusing — with compassion and clarity — on individual human dramas." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[G]randly symphonic, courageous, and scathing....[A] magnificent novel of the insidious devastation of occupation, and Némirovsky is brilliant and heroic....Everything about this transcendent novel is miraculous."
"Review" by , "[A] hugely ambitious novel....A valuable window into the past, and the human psyche. This is important work."
"Review" by , "[S]tunning....[Némirovsky] wrote what may be the first work of fiction about what we now call World War II. She also wrote, for all to read at last, some of the greatest, most humane and incisive fiction that conflict has produced."
"Review" by , "[Némirovsky's] talent was quite considerable and her personal story rather moving and awful....These are two beautifully restrained novels about the chaos and suffering immediately following the fall of Paris..."
"Review" by , "A uniquely resonant picture of France defeated and occupied, a book of exceptional literary quality — it has the kind of intimacy found in the diary of Anne Frank."
"Review" by , "An heroic attempt to write a nightmare in which the author is actually embedded."
"Review" by , "An exceptionally forceful and frank testimony....Like The Diary of Anne Frank, Suite Française is a real find; it excels both from a literary and historical perspective. A masterpiece."
"Review" by , "Remarkable as the story of the publication of Suite Française is, it will finally be of anecdotal interest compared with the importance of the book. Here is the work of a fine novelist at the top of her form, writing about the fate for her adopted country with a pitiless clarity."
"Review" by , "It's evident from the novel's bravura beginning that we're in the presence of something exceptional. In two panoramic pages Némirovsky evokes not just a few Parisians' response to the latest air raid, but the entire city's."
"Synopsis" by , An immediate #1 bestseller in France, Suite Française has captured readers' imaginations not only for the tragic story of its author, and the circumstances of its rediscovery, but for its brilliantly subtle and compelling portrait of France under Occupation.
"Synopsis" by , The first English publication of Suite Française will be a major event. Suite Française is an extraordinary novel of life under Nazi occupation — recently discovered and published 64 years after the author's death in Auschwitz.
"Synopsis" by , 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 living in Paris. But she was also a Jew, and in 1942 she was arrested and deported to Auschwitz: a month later she was dead at the age of thirty-nine. Two years earlier, living in a small village in central France—where she, her husband, and their two small daughters had fled in a vain attempt to elude the Nazis—shed begun her novel, a luminous portrayal of a human drama in which she herself would become a victim. When she was arrested, she had completed two parts of the epic, the handwritten manuscripts of which were hidden in a suitcase that her daughters would take with them into hiding and eventually into freedom. Sixty-four years later, at long last, we can read Némirovskys literary masterpiece

The first part, “A Storm in June,” opens in the chaos of the massive 1940 exodus from Paris on the eve of the Nazi invasion during which several families and individuals are thrown together under circumstances beyond their control. They share nothing but the harsh demands of survival—some trying to maintain lives of privilege, others struggling simply to preserve their lives—but soon, all together, they will be forced to face the awful exigencies of physical and emotional displacement, and the annihilation of the world they know. In the second part, “Dolce,” we enter the increasingly complex life of a German-occupied provincial village. Coexisting uneasily with the soldiers billeted among them, the villagers—from aristocrats to shopkeepers to peasants—cope as best they can. Some choose resistance, others collaboration, and as their community is transformed by these acts, the lives of these these men and women reveal nothing less than the very essence of humanity.

Suite Française is a singularly piercing evocation—at once subtle and severe, deeply compassionate and fiercely ironic—of life and death in occupied France, and a brilliant, profoundly moving work of art.

"Synopsis" by , The first English publication of Suite Française will be a major event. Suite Française is an extraordinary novel of life under Nazi occupation – recently discovered and published 64 years after the author’s death in Auschwitz.

In the early 1940s, Irène Némirovsky was a successful writer living in Paris. But she was also Jewish, and in 1942 she was arrested and deported to Auschwitz. Her two small daughters, aged 5 and 13, escaped, carrying with them, in a small suitcase, the manuscript – one of the great first-hand novelistic accounts of a way of life unravelling.

Part One, “A Storm in June,” is set in the chaos of the tumultuous exodus from Paris on the eve of the Nazi invasion. As the German army approaches, Parisians seize what belongings they can and flee the city, the wealthy and the poor alike searching for means to escape. Thrown together under circumstances beyond their control, a group of families and individuals with nothing in common but the harsh demands of survival find themselves facing the annihilation of their world, and human nature is revealed for what it is – sometimes tender, sometimes terrifying. Part Two, “Dolce,” is set in a German-occupied village near Paris, where, riven by jealousy and resentment, resistance and collaboration, the lives of the townspeople reveal nothing less than the essence of the French identity. The delicate, secret love affair between a German soldier and the French

woman in whose house he has been billeted plays out dangerously against the background of Occupation.

Suite Française is both a piercing record of its time, and a humane, profoundly moving work of art. Riveting, impossible to put down, it makes us witnesses to life as it was in wartime France, and leaves us wondering how we too might behave in such a perilous situation.

An immediate #1 bestseller in France, Suite Française has captured readers’ imaginations not only for the tragic story of its author, and the circumstances of its rediscovery, but for its brilliantly subtle and compelling portrait of France under Occupation.

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