Tuesday, May 22, 2007
34. "Suite Francaise" - Irene Nemirovsky
A stunning narrative of two parts - the first, a description of the great exodus of Parisians during WWII, and the second, the story of a small French town occupied by German soldiers.
Irene Nemirovsky, a former Russian of Jewish descent (though baptized Catholic along with her daughters in 1939), wrote these novellas as part of a five book set. She never got to finish. She was taken away from her family and killed at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
With this background, it is a struggle to read Nemirovsky's words of kindness toward the Germans and troops. Some of the phrases seem to predict her fate. Besides the books - which intertwine the same characters and plots - there is a section of Nemirovsky's diaries. Most heartbreaking, however, is the correspondence from her husband, desperately searching for her. It is impossible to remain detached while reading his pleas for her safety after the date of her death passes.
Overall, this is a book mixing history (in an Anne Frank-esque way) with two well-written sections about how the French "allowed themselves" to survive the German occupation.
4.0 out of 5.0 French Summers.