Sunday, April 8, 2012

Review of Suite Francaise

Thanks Jason. Suite Francaise was a Christmas present and it was just what I needed after the last book of 2011. What a beautiful book. Nemirovsky wrote it frantically from the unoccupied zone of France in 1941. In 1942 the Nazis invaded, and she was deported to Auschwitz, where she was killed. Although she was a well-known and celebrated author of her time, this book was lost until 64 years later, when it was discovered and published. When you know this before even turning a page, it influences your perspective. What kind of conditions was she writing under, having been forced to flee her home, friends and family in Paris? She must have been acutely aware of the impending danger and overwhelmed by the events in her life. Whatever she was feeling was channeled into an incredible novel that follows several families as they flee the Nazi invasion of Paris into the French countryside in June 1940, and the year that follows in a small Nazi-occupied town.

Nemirovsky was a beautiful writer, capturing emotions and human interactions (both tender and cruel) in a realistic and unpretentious way. But what struck me most about the book was her focus on the environment. The countryside of France is really the antagonist of this book, beautiful, fresh, fragrant and lush in spring; hot, sticky and oppressing in summer; and volatile, unrelenting, and overwhelming in fall and winter. Nemirovsky's love for her country and its beauty is obvious with every description of a storm, flower, wind or garden, and this love for life and the world around was often heartbreaking to read, knowing that for her it ended all to short. Suite Francaise must have been Nemirovsky's escape from what was going on around her; I only wish she had truly escaped...and survived.

MY RATING: 9/10.

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