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Denebola » Article » Suite Française
Book Review

Suite Française

By Denebola
Published: November 2007
By Margery Waldron
This summer, I was enslaved by this book not only by
its content but by the woman who wrote it. The story
behind this book is as interesting as the two stories
told within it.

The first novella is titled “Storm in June,” which
describes the German occupation of Paris during World
War II, and the ensuing panic and chaos of the whole
city trying to flee to the country. Némirovsky uses
several different characters (a wealthy woman with
four children and her senile father-in-law, her
husband and his mistress, and a middle-aged married
couple who work together in a bank) and their
experiences to bring to life the harsh realities of
being a refugee on the road without food, money, or
shelter.
Her second story, “Dolce” takes place in the French
country village of Bussy after the armistice is
signed. The German occupation is met by the villagers
with trepidation and resentment but over time they
began to see the soldiers as individuals. Némirovsky
deftly hews the conflicting emotions of the locals of
their anger and hatred for their conquerors with their
compassion and empathy for the lonely soldiers
stationed far from their home.
Born a Russian Jew in the Ukraine, Némirovsky moved to
France in 1919 where she converted to Catholicism. In
Paris, she married and had two daughters. During the
German invasion, Némirovsky fled with her family to
the village of Issy-l’Evêque, where she wrote Suite
Française.
On July 13, however, before it could be sent to a
publisher she was arrested and sent to Auschwitz where
she died on August 27. In the late 1990′s Némirovsky’s
daughter Denise found the manuscript among her
mother’s effects. In 2004, Suite Française was finally
published and became an instant best seller in France.
This book still resonates with me months after reading
it and I would highly recommend it to all readers.

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