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Fire in the Blood (Vintage International) Paperback – July 15, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, October 2007: As the Nazis advanced on France, celebrated writer Irène Némirovsky composed two final masterworks: Suite Française and Fire in the Blood. The first, smuggled out in a suitcase by her escaping daughters when Némirovsky was taken to her death at Auschwitz in 1942, surfaced more than 60 years later and restored her bestselling status. The other, two pages of which slipped out in that same suitcase, was thought lost--until biographers discovered the rest of the manuscript in papers given to Némirovsky's editor for safekeeping. A worthy companion to Suite Française, it follows three interwoven stories across two decades, when the hot-blooded affairs of youth threaten the cool calm of middle age. Once it has all unraveled, the last line lodges in your heart like a sliver. If only there could have been more. --Mari Malcolm --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

When she was writing Suite Française in 1940, Némirovsky, who died in Auschwitz in 1942 before turning 40, was also reworking this novel, newly discovered among her papers. Though composed on a smaller canvas, it is another keenly observed study of human nature, and in this case of Burgundy paysans. In a leisurely narrative, middle-aged narrator Silvio recounts three interlocking stories of love and betrayal over two decades. These secret affairs, he says, can be explained only by fire in the blood, the intense passion that can overtake men and women when they are young, highly sexed and vulnerable. Silvio's laconic descriptions of unappeasable desire are seasoned by bitter assessment of the wisdom earned after things cool. Linked through blood and common local history, the characters in this la ronde of betrayal exist in a seemingly idyllic community that is always alert for deviations from the social code. Némirovsky's restraint in unfolding her story contributes to the emotional crescendo at the story's denouement. In its penetrating distillation of manners and mores, this spare and elegant book makes a worthy follow-up to Suite. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage International
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (July 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030738800X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307388001
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #739,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This novel was written by a 34-year-old woman who was reflecting on her youth, on aging, on the differences between young and old, and on past mistakes and how they are never erased. In this brief and sketchy work, you will find exquisite passages that describe the beautiful French countryside and the comforts of small town life, of love, and of family. The work is narrated by an older man whose passions are burned out but whose memories still haunt him. He sometimes stands off from the lives and dramas surrounding him, but that pose can only hold up for so long. And in fact, almost all the characters in this book want merely peace, love, and solitude, but these qualities prove very hard to attain in the face of life's passions. Although the book at times resembles a soap opera, there are nuggets of wisdom here, and, like all great literature, this work takes on our mortality, our passions, and our human story unfolding in the passing of time. For me this book was well worth reading and savoring Irene Nemirovsky's great literary skills.
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Format: Hardcover
It's great that such there was enough material found amongt Nemirovsky's papers to publish this novella posthumously. This book, while slight, manages to create a sense of place as Silvio describes the village and his relations. Nemirovsky's prose here is more languid than in "Suite Franciase" and this owes to the story being told from a first-person perspective. It's much slower than "Suite Francaise," the book we will all be comparing it to, but this is quite a different story and requires a different telling. I felt that the story meandered for a while as Silvio discusses his relations and past, but toward the end of the story, things come together, revelations are made and I udnertsood where the narrative had been heading.

While this story didn't engage my attention like "Suite Francaise" did,(a book that had me racing home to read it) it still stands as a testament to the late Nemirovsky's talent.
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Format: Hardcover
"Fire in the Blood" is the second work to be published posthumously from Irene Nemirovsky, whose masterpiece "Suite Francaise" became a well deserved international sensation in 2006 and 2007. Once again Sandra Smith composes the English translation from the original French and does a splendid job of capturing the spirit of Nemirovsky's prose, though this work lacks some of the cunningly evocative wordplay that had some sections of "Suite Francaise" seem so poetic and fluidly verbose.

Focusing on the romantic follies and unintentionally murderous affairs of the residents of a small village in the French countryside, "Fire in the Blood" is an entertaining slice-of-life style soap opera told uniquely from the point of view of travel-worn aging bachelor who has returned reluctantly to his quiet hometown. Focusing more of the memories of love and youth than on the actual encounters, Nemirovsky avoids the typical trappings of the run-of-the-mill romance novel. There's an often cold, bitter, outsider's sense of detachment to the follies of the characters in the book that give it a sharp observer's edge and turns it into more of anthropological study than a melodrama. Many nuances of rural life and the social mores of the pre-WWII French are delivered spot-on by the Ukrainian born writer. Nemirovsky seduces the reader in the end, as secrets are revealed, and we get a brief flicker of the passion and the fire that had been elusive in the rest of the novel (hidden in gossip and observations after the fact) in the closing pages and haunting final lines. For Nemirovsky, true love dances across the whitewashed walls of our memories like shadows before the flame is snuffed out and we go to sleep for the rest of our lives in utter darkness.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have just finished "Fire in the Blood" by Irene Nemirovsky and am utterly overwhelmed by how good of a read it was. The narrative is rich but not so overly detailed that it is taxing. The characters are painted so carefully, so accurately, that their humanity is palpable. The story is captivating and has ... oh but I don't want to even risk spoiling it!

This book should be widely read. And if you are a sensitive soul, you'll enjoy it very much.
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Format: Audio CD
Fire in the Blood
I cannot imagine a more beautifully written or narrated (Mark Bramhall) book. This is a masterpiece that engrosses the reader with the tastes, smells and textures of the French countryside in the early 1900's. Of course there's plenty of gossip and family scandal in this relatively short work of 3 CD's. You won't regret a minute spent in the company of Silvio, the character telling this quiet, but fascinating tale.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great read. The character development is outstanding, and the lives of the "paysans" in this small French village, in the years before the war, are as complicated as the most sophisticated characters in any metropolis. Nemirovsky employs Silvio as narrator, and the twists and turns in the plot unfold masterfully in her writing. I kept thinking about movie star casting as I read this. The world lost a real literary treasure when her life ended so early. I really enjoyed this read. Job Reader, Milwaukee, WI
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