Monday, September 29, 2008
Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky
Suite Française is one novel by Irène Némirovsky, but is actually only two of what was supposed to be a series of five novels. Sadly, the author, who was arrested in July of 1942 as a Jew and did not survive Auschwitz, only finished the first two books in the series and never saw Suite Française in print. For her, they were only rough drafts of an idea that was never finished.
I think knowing this while reading these two stories of war and German occupied France, changed how I felt about them. She was actually very gracious, even kind, in describing the Germans and I found myself genuinely cheering for the relationship between Madame Lucile and the German commander, Bruno, who is billeted in her home.
I appreciated the irony and the bitter sweetness of life at war, although I don’t honestly know if I can say I enjoyed this book. I certainly didn’t dislike it, but I think I was so obsessed with the author’s fate, that I didn’t really appreciate the stories for their own value. That is my fault, not hers, so I guess I would still recommend the book. She was a clever writer with great descriptions and mild, ironic humor. I am more than willing to forgive the fact that I was left feeling empty in the end, due to the tragic loss of the author. I would have loved to read the entire series.