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Unless you re reading a memoir or autobiography, you usually aren t conscious of an author s presence in a book I m not talking about style Obviously, there are times you can tell the provenance of a book, and know its creator, by skimming a few paragraphs Short, punchy sentences, hyper masculinity, and casual misogyny mean I m reading Hemingway if I can t understand what I m reading, it s because I m trying Faulkner and if I ve fallen asleep, I know I ve got something by Melville in my hands.Beyond stylistic fingerprints, though, it s rare that you are actually thinking about an author as you read Usually, the author remains on the back flap as an airbrushed photograph and a short paragraph about a pet dog named Ulysses and a condo in New York Ir ne N mirovsky s Suite Francaise is different Her life and her death haunt every single page, making an entirely objective literary critique if such a thing even exists next to impossible N mirovsky was a successful writer living in Paris when the Germans invaded France in 1940 The French, despite preparing for a German attack since 1918, quickly fell apart The Germans advanced through the Ardennes, outflanked the Maginot Line, and perhaps took advantage of a shaky French psyche, which had suffered four years of occupation during World War I, and spent the intervening decades in fear of the Teutonic forces on their frontier In any event, France soon capitulated N mirovsky was a convert to Roman Catholicism However, under German racial laws, she was Jewish She moved to the countryside where she began the truncated work today known as Suite Francaise N mirovsky actually planned a total of five novels, designed to mirror a musical suite, which would total approximately 1,000 pages She churned out drafts of the first two novels, Storm in June and Dolce, and had outlined a third novel, Captivity, before her arrest in 1942 N mirovsky was taken to Auschwitz, where she died Fifty years later, her novels came to light With that as its background, Suite Francaise deflects any attempts at normal literary judgment This is not a work of fiction in which the author had the ability to plan, plot and polish a finished novel rather, the two completed books, essentially unrevised, are parts of an unfinished whole Moreover, they were written under desperate circumstances about those same desperate circumstances Even as you read about the mortal danger facing N mirovsky s characters, you are forced to recall the noose tightening around her own neck Had it been finished, Suite Francaise would have provided an epic look at France under the Nazi boot heel As it exists, it is a fleeting, tantalizing glimpse at a marvelous talent Storm in June, the first book, is the refined, vibrant, and fulfilling of the two completed sections of Suite Francaise The story involves four separate groups of characters, forced to flee Paris ahead of the oncoming German Army Though N mirovsky has drawn some connections among these four groups and connections likely would ve been fleshed out , they mainly travel their separate roads The first group of characters are the Michaud s Maurice and Jeanne Michaud are smalltime employees at a bank run by the unlikeable Monsieur Corbin The Michaud s son, Jean Marie, is a soldier in the French Army The Michaud s, being of modest means, are unable to leave Paris they spend most of the story worrying about their son N mirovsky s characters are separated by class the higher the class, the lower the character As such, the Michaud s are clearly N mirovsky s favorites noble and humble and good However, due to those simplified traits, they are also the least interesting storyline.The next character group is the P ricand family The P ricand s are of a higher social class, and they attempt to leave Paris for Nimes, where they own property Though they have money, they also have a social conscious One of the P ricand children, Philippe, is a priest in charge of the wellbeing of a party of orphans unfortunately for Philippe, the orphans are straight out of The Lord of the Flies Another of the P ricand brood, young Hubert, deserts his family on the road to join the army, where he inevitably learns that war is hell, there is no glory, etc., etc The final two storylines belong to Gabriel Corte, a famous writer, and Charles Langelet, a rich old collector of porcelain Corte heads to Vichy with his mistress, while Langelet makes for Loire These two are of the upper crust of French society, and N mirovsky clearly despises them Indeed, Suite Francaise is laced with her elegantly controlled sense of outrage and betrayal N mirovsky believed that France had forsaken her, and she clearly uses Suite Francaise to lay blame Yet despite the poison she heaps onto them, Corte and Langelet are fascinating protagonists They are not heroic or good in any sense but still, they are human, and in their moment by moment rationalizations, never achieve villainy However, there is a scene when Corte reaches the Grand Hotel at the end of his journey that approached mustache twirling meanness In this scene, Corte drinks from a chilled glass and eats a dish of olives and observes a gathering of his social peers who, like him, have escaped the dirty lower classes on the crowded roads from Paris This passage ends with Corte and a playwright discussing their work, without a thought for the rest of the world.Even N mirovsky, in her notes, realized that parts of Storm in June were overly melodramatic She picked out a scene with Philippe and the orphans for possible rewriting There was also an instance where N mirovsky s dislike for a certain character spilled over into a macabre death that felt appropriate in a Final Destination movie Still, the cross cutting between characters, highlighting the differences in class and personality, made for a satisfying story N mirovsky also achieves a beautiful, vivid sense of the turnover from peace to war Day was breaking A silvery blue light slid over the cobblestones, over the parapets along the quayside, over the towers of Notre Dame Bags of sand were piled halfway up all the important monuments, encircling Carpeaux s dancers on the fa ade of the Opera House, silencing the Marseillaise on the Arc de Triomphe A t some distance, great guns were firing they drew nearer, and every window shuddered in reply In hot rooms with blacked out windows, children were born, and their cries made the women forget the sound of sirens and war To the dying, the barrage of gunfire seemed far away, without any meaning whatsoever, just one element in that vague, menacing whisper that washes over those on the brink of death Children slept peacefully, held tight against their mothers sides, their lips making sucking noises, like little lambs Street sellers carts lay abandoned, full of fresh flowers Dolce does not come near to matching the craft of Storm in June It takes place in the village of Bussy, which has been occupied by the Germans The main characters in Dolce are two women, Lucille and Madeleine Lucille is married to a French prisoner of war Before the surrender, her husband had been a cruel, philandering man, and Lucille does not quite mourn his absence This fact is noted by her mother in law, who lives with Lucille Madeleine is also in an unhappy marriage Her husband is the simple farmer Benoit, a soldier who escaped German captivity and hungers to resist the invaders The tie binding Lucille and Madeleine, other than friendship, is their odd preoccupation with the German occupants of their respective homes Both women are indifferent towards their French husbands and both women harbor a secret lust for the gray uniformed Aryan soldier living with them Certainly this is a bit transgressive And maybe, with some work, there might have been a story here But nothing really comes of this Two thirds of Dolce is exhaustingly repetitive, and is spent mostly with Lucille nurturing a no touch flirtation with Bruno von Falk, her uninvited German guest Only at the end of Dolce is there is hint of action, when Benoit kills a soldier and goes into hiding This event, however, is framed as a sideshow to Lucille s uncertain attraction to Bruno Thus, an event that could have been milked for drama, remains limp and inert Indeed, the whole of the German occupation seems relatively benign The Germans may threaten to shoot people, but they never do The stakes in Dolce are low, and remain low, until the Germans pack up and leave While I did not quite enjoy Dolce, I did find it amazing that N mirovsky could conjure such humanity for her German characters They are not monsters, just vaguely menacing foreigners who were often harmless, polite, and lovers of good music Most of N mirovsky s scorn is reserved for her own people The power of Suite Francaise comes as much from its circumstances as its content I couldn t read a single sentence without imagining N mirovsky writing that sentence while waiting for black coated, jackboot wearing thugs to knock on her door In the appendix to this edition to Suite Francaise, you can see some of the original pages to her manuscript, the notes she wrote to herself, and letters she wrote to others It shows an author of great talent and ambition, growing increasingly worried about her fate, turning to her writing as a kind of catharsis Fifty million people died in World War II Approximately 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust Of that number, some 77,000 came from France N mirovsky was one of those 77,000 It is hard for me to imagine 77,000 of anything, much less 6 million or 50 million The size of the numbers anesthetize the mind In order to recognize a tragedy, you have to look to the individual In that sense, the partly completed Suite Francaise is a poignant symbol of human catastrophe of World War II Its unfinished pages reflect somberly on an unfinished life. This is a story of the invasion of Paris by the Germans in WW II Part I and the German occupation of a village outside of Paris Part II War brings out the best and worst in people and during the chaotic flight out of Paris to which most of those who fled simply returned a week or two later we see examples of great generosity and sharing but also people stealing food and gasoline from each other The author follows the escapades of a variety of people from a cross section of classes but she saves her vitriol, spoken through her characters, for the upper classes and intellectuals A playwright, a banker and an antiques dealer provide some of the worst examples of selfish behavior But the lower classes aren t off the hook for example, a group of orphan boys kills a priest who was trying to help them In Part II, in the occupied village, the class focus shifts to peasants and landowners German officers are quartered in people s homes and again we have the full gamut of human behaviors ranging from some French who won t even speak to a German to a woman who falls in love with a German officer even though her French husband is a German POW The ghosts of the prior French German wars in 1914 and in the 1870 s come up so much they are like a character in the novel The book is strangely silent about the impact of the war on Jews in France I say strangely because the author and her husband were Catholics of Jewish ancestry Both were imprisoned and died in concentration camps Their two daughters escaped and one had this novel in her suitcase The book has a heart braking appendix of letters from the author, Nemirovsky, writing to bankers and lawyers trying to get her confiscated funds freed up to support her family and letters from her husband to lawyers and diplomats trying to learn the whereabouts of his wife the author who was imprisoned first. Tour de force What a breathtaking achievement this novel is incredible The story of how it was written is a dramatic witness account of the surreal world of France occupied by the Wehrmacht from 1940 on Ir ne N mirovsky, of Jewish origin, wrote it while expecting to be deported to the East, and she had barely finished it when she was arrested in July 1942 She was murdered in Auschwitz, but her children survived, hidden until the end of the war And with them, moving from one hiding place to the next, they brought this manuscript That alone makes it a special document, and I started reading it mainly because the circumstances of its creation fascinated me in a heartbreaking way.The novel itself is of unique brilliance, of acute observation, a prelude to the darkest hours in the Second World War, a study of humanity living through a universal stress test, not knowing that the worst is still ahead A diverse collection of characters from different walks of life are thrown into uncertainty and confusion when Germany invades France In a hectic crowd they leave Paris to escape, only to find themselves in various difficult situations as the long trail of refugees fill up the small villages and towns in the countryside Depending on social status and personality, they all see the occupation from their own specific perspective, and N mirovsky paints human weakness and vanity in tragicomical truthfulness When a woman complains about all stores being empty, and nothing left for them to purchase, her husband laughs and says he has found a store fully equipped A piano shop But underneath their fatalistic sense of humour, the fleeing people learn that the Christian charity they had adapted in better times doesn t count much when they feel existentially threatened Il lui fallait nourrir et abriter ses petits Le reste ne comptait plus As time goes by, the French arrange themselves around the dominance of the German soldiers They get used to the signs forbidding everything a peine de mort , they get used to the forced accommodation of soldiers in their homes, to the secrecy and danger of speaking their minds, to anxiously waiting for sons and husbands to come back They get used to the presence of the occupying force, and even start seeing some of the soldiers as human beings There are dilemmas and complications as young soldiers and women fall in love on an individual level but reject each other as members of different community systems Je hais cet esprit communautaire dont on nous rebat les oreilles Les Allemands, les Francais, les gaullistes s entendent tous sur un point il faut vivre, penser, aimer avec les autres, en fonction d un tat, d un pays, d un parti Oh mon Dieu je ne veux pas Je suis une pauvre femme inutile je ne sais rien mais je veux tre libre In the end, the forces of their communities are stronger than individual feelings, however, and the characters are all driven by the maelstrom of war to commit to the dogma of their unit of power The novel ends with the departure of the German soldiers who are ordered to move to the Eastern front, and their life in France seems almost idyllic with hindsight, knowing what awaits them So the war moves to the East, and one of its victims is the author of this unbelievable, yet incredibly realistic account of France under the yoke of German occupation Must Read This book jolted me It s rare when I read a book literally from cover to coverand close it nearly in tears This was witten as France was being occupied by the Nazis during the Second World War, thus, this may well be the first fictional account of World War Two as it was happening Needless to say, this is an immensely important book and in my opinion should be required reading in history classes This is an unfinished work by a Russian French author who died in Auschwitz before she could complete what she was hoping would be a novel opus written in the style of a piece of music This is definately an ambitious and frustrating read But the readers must take in mind that this is an incomplete draft As a writer, I enjoyed reading something unfinished It was wonderful to be able to crawl into someone s imaginative workings as they are happening with all the frayed bits left strung out It helped me in assessing my own approach to the creative process and I think I ll be referring back to this novel time and again to get some pointers on plot devices and flow As a story, this is flawed If I was just giving points for the story itself I would only alot it three stars The fourth is for the fact that the appendix s in the back as well as the forword to the French addition are utterly fascinating This is a highly forgotten author and I m looking forward to reading of her work It pains me that this was never completed On a side note, I experienced a strange realization while reading this by finding out that the suburb of Paris where my girlfriend s grandmother lives, Drancy, is the site of a former concentration camp This gives a fascinatingly detailed account of life during the French Occupation as it was happening through the eyes of a formerly but that has never been known to stop Nazis Jewish woman She has a keen knack for expressing the human experience The lives of those she describes are lives interrupted during war, whether it be French peasants or young, highly incompetent German soldiers in way over their heads She described the young German soldiers with a tenderness and empathy I thought incredible Thus, subverting their power by describing them as young boys caught up in something they have marginal understanding of The most poignant scenes for me where those in which she described what happens to young people during wartime How all the young French boys are away and the young girls secretly idolize their captors and their captors in turn court the young girlsafter all they re still teenagers That to me, was heart breaking Reading this, over sixty years after it was written and in another pseudo war , makes me realize how useless the power displays of men playing king of the hill really areespecially when the lives of everyday people are involved. MUST READ MUST READ Wonderful unfinished novel by famous Jewish French author Interesting story is behind publication of this novel The manuscript stayed in a box for decades because the daughters of the author thought it is diary but it was not One of my favourite novels and I am proud that I was its Serbian editor U Srbiji je knjigu objavila Laguna predivna knjiga veoma dirljiva I picked this one up because it resembled a historical romance I believe the cover to be one of the most powerful and beautiful, just o so right for this particular book that I could scream Then I found out what the tiny particles of pathos all seemed to portend this was a posthumous work Immediately the work becomes grounded it easily turns into something important, adult, even delicate This is an incredible novel which may ve easily been lost forever Yikes Perhaps the writer s tragic background story is sadder than this an unequal unfinished take on the early years of the second World War in France It is divided into two separate parts Storm in June relates the mass exodus by those many different individuals leaving Paris the puppetry of all the characters is what s so terrific in the novel Miss Nemirovsky can pick out different people from different classes with such ease and art like a stroll through the decks of the Titanic But the second part, which DOES relate a romance between a Frenchwoman and gasp a German soldier, makes the whole really, truly uneven entitled Dolce, that second part was often found to be Dull ce Although I was truly stirred by the descriptions of the hot German soldier looking all masculine while still retaining the monster within, I kept asking myself What happened to all the characters from the first part That their fates were blurred away makes so much sense in a historical, even aesthetic, way In all reality, many lives, like that of the writer herself, who died in a concentration camp a year or two later, were erased forever just like that, many stories were left sadly unfinished It would ve been a grand treat to have read all of Irene Nemirovsky s proposed magnum opus a gargantuan of than 1000 pages Just because both parts do not mesh completely doesn t indicate that the book is not overfilled with symbols thoughts of forewarning, sadness doom. |Kindle ♌ Suite française ☪ The First Two Stories Of A Masterwork Once Thought Lost, Written By A Pre WWII Bestselling Author Who Was Deported To Auschwitz And Died Before Her Work Could Be CompletedBy The Early Ls, When Ukrainian Born Ir Ne N Mirovsky Began Working On What Would Become Suite Fran Aise 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 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 N Mirovsky S Literary Masterpiece The First Part, A Storm In June, Opens In The Chaos Of The Massive 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 HumanitySuite Fran Aise 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 Tolone S Arroux 13 luglio 1942 ore 5 scritta a matita e non obliterataCopro di baci le mie bambine adorate, e che la mia Denise faccia sempre la brava Ti stringo forte sul cuore insieme con Babet, che il buon Dio vi protegga Quanto a me, mi sento calma e forte .Non avevo mai letto nulla della Nemirovsky e ho sfidato la sorte cominciando con il suo ultimo e incompiuto Suite francese apparentemente un libro semplice Un opera pensata come una sinfonia, pi tempi, ogni personaggio studiato nelle sue infinite sfaccettature, ma avr il tempo di scrivere solo due movimenti Tempesta di giugno un esodo lontano dalla guerra che avanza, da Parigi borghesi e poveri la guerra arriva per tutti, anche se diversamente E l occhio di una telecamera che avanza, stringe, mette a fuoco su una serie di personaggi curiosi, gretti, meschini, semplici o piccoli eroi, innamorati o odiati Dolce sembra entrare nel vivo dei sentimenti di questa gente, respirare con le loro emozioni I soldati tedeschi sono nemici, ma allo stesso tempo uominiMia moglie disse mi aspetta, o meglio aspetta qualcuno che partito per la prima volta quattro anni fa e che non torner mai del tutto uguale L assenza un fenomeno ben strano E la bellezza di alcune descrizioni della natura stride con il tema della guerra ma rende la dolcezza dell animaLa luce calava a poco a poco e i rami dei ciliegi in fiore si facevano azzurrognoli e leggeri come piumini pieni di cipria. Quello che mi ha colpito che non c ombra di odio in questo libro Irene cercava di terminarlo in una corsa contro il tempo, sapendo lei stessa di essere braccata, non si curava di s perch la fine era certa, avrebbe solo voluto del tempo per completare E questa credo sia la pi grande lezione che un libro possa offrire, il pi grande regalo che uno scrittore possa fare ai suoi lettori se stesso La corrispondenza che chiude il libro stata per me la parte pi toccante L ansia e la concitazione di quei momenti passa tutta attraverso le parole E pensare che mentre il marito si dava da fare per liberarla lei fosse gi morta la cosa pi tristeGioved mattina luglio 42 Pithiviers scritta a matita e non obliterata Mio amato, mie piccole adorate, credo che partiamo oggi Coraggio e speranza Siete nel mio cuore, miei diletti Che Dio ci aiuti tutti. The story of the author and how the book came to be published so many years after her death is a much compelling story than this, although if Nemirovsky had the chance to complete the book to her vision I may think differently As it is, the book was well done in its portrayal of the many facets of human nature that show themselves in times of crises Nemirovsky shows a sympathy for basic human responses, even if those reactions are abhorrent to common values and sentiments.The book also portrayed a part of history, the German invasion and occupation of France, that I didn t know much about besides the hard facts how people fled Paris only to be killed on the roads and villages by German bombs, the guilt of French people who chose to collaborate with the Germans in order to survive Suprisingly, she did not discuss the experiences of Jews in France and the deeper fear they must have felt upon the German invasion, but perhaps that was for a later part of the book she didn t finish before being sent to a concentration camp herself.Still, even though I did enjoy the book, I did not find it engrossing in a way that kept me reading I think this is because of a lack of plot Each chapter was like a self contained episode in the lives of certain characters And while those episodes were interesting and entertaining, perhaps even meaningful, there was no drive to keep reading The second half of the book, the Dolce volume, had of a storyline that continued from chapter to chapter and had of a pull But I still can t say that it deserved a three star review Maybe two and a half. Suite Fran aise French Suite, Ir ne N mirovskySuite Fran aise is the title of a planned sequence of five novels by Ir ne N mirovsky, a French writer of Ukrainian Jewish origin In July 1942, having just completed the first two of the series, N mirovsky was arrested as a Jew and detained at Pithiviers and then Auschwitz, where she was murdered, a victim of the Holocaust The notebook containing the two novels was preserved by her daughters but not examined until 1998 They were published in a single volume entitled Suite fran aise in 2004 The sequence was to portray life in France in the period following June 1940, the month in which the German army rapidly defeated the French and fought the British Paris and northern France came under German occupation on 14 June The first novel, Storm in June Temp te en juin depicts the flight of citizens from Paris in the hours preceding the German advance and in the days following it The second, Sweet Dolce , shows life in a small French country town, Bussy in the suburbs just east of Paris , in the first, strangely peaceful, months of the German occupation These first two novels seem able to exist independently from each other on first reading The links between them are rather tenuous as N mirovsky observes in her notebook, it is the history and not the characters, that unite them 2010 1388 448 9789643741839 21 1391 104 9789644485299.