Thursday, January 6, 2011

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

Irene Nemirovsky (1903 - 1942) Was born in Kiev, her family was forced to flee to France during the Russian Revolution. There, she became an author of wonderful fiction novels such as: The Ball, David Golder, and The Courilof Affair.

Irene's life was short and filled with beauty as well as strife. She began writing at the age of 18. The relationship with her mother was complicated to say the least and is the central theme of many of her novels. She enjoyed great success as a writer in Paris and, in the mid 1920's, married a banker  with whom she had two girls. 

During World War II, she struggled to keep her family safe, converting from Judaism to Catholicism to protect her children from the growing anti semitism in France. Her husband lost his job and she was no longer allowed to publish her books. They fled south, applying desperately for French citizenship to no avail. In July, 1942, Irene was taken to Auschwitz where she died a month later from typhus. As she was being taken away, she told her young daughters, "I am going on a journey now." In November of 1942, her husband was taken to Auschwitz where he was immediately gassed. 

During the Second World War, prior to her deportation, Irene began documenting the war in France in the form of reflection as opposed to an emotional non-fiction account of her personal turmoil. The two novellas are extraordinary, giving a real and unbiased look into the lives of ordinary people in a very unordinary time. 

Suite Francaise

This amazing manuscript went unnoticed for fifty years as her oldest daughter, Denise, had kept it in a suitcase with other mementos of her mother--too painful to look at. When her daughter finally had the courage to go through her mother's things, she found the manuscript, realized its importance, and immediately had it published. It became a bestseller in 2004. 

At the end of the book is an outline for "part three" which Irene never had time to finish. She had also outlined two other parts one for the end of the war and the last for after the war. 

I highly recommend Suite Francaise, it is a wonderful and poignant piece.

Gros bisous de literature et a demain!

Love, Charley


  1. That is an outstanding book! She had a very impressive life...

  2. @Susanne, a resounding YES! on the outstanding book! She must have been an amazing person.

  3. One of my favorites.
    I like the new look...very calming blue.
    bon weekend,
    xo a

  4. i loved this book. it was incredible to read an objective point of view about Paris in the war. Carla

  5. Love the work of this author.

  6. I really like this book as well as all the other Nemirovsky

  7. @Carla, Ellen, and Glanluigia, I am so thrilled to know that so many of you have read her works. There is something so poignant about her writing, you feel as though you are right there, even though many of them were written almost a century ago.

    Thanks so much for your comments! :)


  8. Charly - I'm a new ready of your blog (Thanks to Enchanted Hue for posting a link on FB). Suite Francaise is one of my top 5 favorite books. Amazing read.

  9. @ Jennifer, thanks for reading!! Suite Francaise is unforgettable, lovely, lovely book. :-)

  10. This was such a wonderful book...the characters were so alive.