Read this book.

January 19, 2009 at 1:44 pm Leave a comment


My mother-in-law recently loaned me Suite Francaise, a novel about the German occupation of France in 1939-1941.  The book is told in two sections: the first section, _Storm_, tells the story of the flight of the French as the Germans conquer their nation in 1939 and early 1940.  The second section, _Dolce_, is a narrative about the actual occupation, and how the French learned to exist side by side with their captors.

The fascinating thing about this storyis that, while it is fiction, the author was living it while she was telling it.  Irene Nemirovsky was an established writer living in France during the time of the occupation.  She was a Russian Jew by heritage; she had emigrated to France years earlier.  Nemirovsky had planned for the book to have five parts, but she never had the chance to finish her narrative.  In 1942 she was deported to a concentration camp, where she was murdered.  Her husband suffered a similar fate.  Fortunately, her two daughters, both born on French soil and therefore French citizens, were taken in by some local friends and avoided the fate of their parents.

While the story flows easily, it took me a few chapters to establish the main characters and differentiate them from each other in my head.  Once I did, I settled into this wonderful look at how class dictates how we handle things, especially crises such as war.  I am shamefully uneducated regarding the great world wars, and this book gave me a new perspective on what millions of Europeans experienced during the early 20th century.


Entry filed under: Book review.

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