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The Wine of Solitude (Vintage International)by Irene Nemirovsky
Synopses & Reviews
Introspective and poignant, The Wine of Solitude is the most autobiographical of all of the novels from the celebrated author of Suite Française.
Beginning in a fictionalized Kiev, The Wine of Solitude follows the Karol family through the Great War and the Russian Revolution, as the young Hélène grows from a dreamy, unhappy child into a strongwilled young woman. From the hot Kiev summers to the cruel winters of St. Petersburg and eventually to springtime in Paris, the would-be writer Hélène blossoms, despite her mother’s neglect, into a clear-eyed observer of the life around her. Here is a powerful tale of disillusionment — the story of an upbringing that produces a young woman as hard as a diamond, prepared to wreak a shattering revenge on her mother.
A Vintage Paperback Original
"Némirovsky's (Suite Française) tragically short life is epitomized in this mournful yet effervescent autobiographical novel spanning WWI, the Russian revolution, and the 1920s. Hélène's passage from Kiev to Finland and finally Paris follows her metamorphosis from awkward, solitary child to beguiling adolescent and intoxicating woman. Attempting to find a haven (and save their riches) during this period of historical upheaval, the Karols eventually reach France. Observant beyond her years, Hélène fixes her laser sight on all aspects of her turbulent, nomadic existence, particularly her hedonistic mother, Bella, whom she despises with an enduring passion that is perhaps too pervasive. Blaming Bella for 'ruining childhood' and provoking the loss of her beloved governess, Hélène hatches a plan to seduce her mother's lover. The ambiguous father figure of Boris Karol, a successful businessman and compulsive gambler, is a subtler achievement than Bella, in what constitutes a prequel of sorts to the author's first novel, David Golder. Beyond the waves of 'sadness and venom' which characterize much of Némirovsky's coming-of-age tale, her incredible eye for detail and the naturalistic beauty of her writing make this taut narrative glow with her irrepressible love of life. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Wonderfully atmospheric....Némirovsky evokes the places of her childhood with a sensuous clarity that shows how much she learned from Tolstoy and Proust....A captivating and searingly honest portrait of the artist as a young woman." The Guardian
"Strangely haunting....Profound, exquisitely wrought....A pitch-perfect evocation of adult duplicity." The Independent
"Breathtaking....Némirovsky’s powers of social observation, [her] implacable eye for the nuances of human conduct...make The Wine of Solitude so memorable." The Financial Times
About the Author
Irène Némirovsky was born in Kiev in 1903 into a wealthy banking family and immigrated to France during the Russian Revolution. After attending the Sorbonne in Paris, she began to write and swiftly achieved success with David Golder, which was followed by more than a dozen other books. Throughout her lifetime she published widely in French newspapers and literary journals. She died in Auschwitz in 1942. More than sixty years later, Suite Française was published posthumously for the first time in 2006.
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