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Jezebel (Vintage International) Paperback – May 1, 2012
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Praise for Irene Nemirovsky and Jezebel:
“Engrossing. . . . A fascinating portrait of paranoid self-absorption.”
“Fast-paced and highly dramatic, Jezebel offers a fascinating glimpse into an inter-war world of privilege, wealth and Darwinian social combat.”
“Nemirovsky wrote, for all to read at last, some of the greatest, most humane and inclusive fiction that conflict has produced.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Nemirovsky’s scope is like that of Tolstoy: She sees the fullness of humanity and its tenuous arrangements and manages to put them together with a tone that is affectionate, patient, and relentlessly honest.”
—O, The Oprah Magazine
“Extraordinary. . . . Nemirovsky achieves her penetrating insights with Flaubertian objectivity.”
—The Washington Post Book World
“Brilliant. . . . [Nemirovsky wrote] with supreme lucidity [and] expressed with great emotional precision her understanding of the country that betrayed her.”
“Transcendent, astonishing. . . . Like Anne Frank, Irene Nemirovsky was unaware of neither her circumstance nor the growing probability that she might not survive. And still, she writes to us.”
—The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
About the Author
Irene Nemirovsky was born in Kiev in 1903 into a wealthy banking family and immigrated to France during the Russian Revolution. After attending the Sorbonne in Paris, she began to write and swiftly achieved success with David Golder, which was followed by more than a dozen other books. Throughout her lifetime she published widely in French newspapers and literary journals. She died in Auschwitz in 1942. More than sixty years later, Suite Francaise was published posthumously for the first time in 2006.
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Top Customer Reviews
Gladys has the kind of beauty that lasts beyond middle age and attracts admirers at every turn. Her great wealth helps her support the illusion of endless youth. Her biggest problem is her daughter who, although obliging in most ways, persists in getting older every year. Gladys is too young to have a grown-up daughter!
I won't give any details of the plot, so you can experience the emotional shocks fresh. Jezebel is a tour de force, with its single-minded focus on the disturbing psychology of Gladys and her hedonistic world.
Jezebel was published in French in 1936 and in English in 1937.
Translator Sandra Smith gives us a telling fact in her short but informative introduction. Irene Nemirovsky's mother Fanny dressed her in children's clothes well into Irene's teens, as a way of denying her own age. We need look no further than Fanny to understand the power of this book to distress and horrify.
This is not comfort reading. Rather, it's fiercely thought-provoking - an all-out indictment of the cult of youth and beauty that we still suffer from today. If you're exploring all the works of Irene Nemirovsky, as I am, you'll want to include Jezebel.
When the novel begins, an older but still beautiful Gladys is on trial in a French courtroom for the murder of a twenty-year-old man, Bernard Martin. A succession of witnesses effectively annihilates any defense, especially as Gladys (Burnera) Eysenach offers no rebuttal to her part in the man's demise. The following chapters reveal the real story, from Gladys' first heady awareness that extraordinary beauty has its own unique power to subjugate and manipulate men. Marriage brings Gladys the wealth to live as she chooses, without the restrictions that might temper her excesses. The degree of waste and tragedy in her life is the collateral damage of the true narcissist, the twisted cunning of a warped personality. Nemirovsky eloquently captures the outward beauty and inner decay of a woman in thrall to her own image, her only real enemy and the instrument of her defeat, the inevitable, deadly passage of time. Luan Gaines/2012.
As years, even decades pass, her physique hardly changes, but her anxiety grows exponentially. What she does to prolong the perception of her youth is the gist of the novel. It is all about manipulation and destruction, beginning in the 1910s and ending in 1935.
The book starts with her trial that year, charged with shooting dead her 20-year old lover...
Very intriguing novel in this day and age about the French leisure class in the 1930s, their mistresses & gigolos, heavy drinking & gambling and endless parties and balls. Male readers will hate it. But IN, who published a dozen novels before and during WW II. Here she acts as a crafty plotter imploring readers to jerk tears on Gladys' behalf, which no one will do, of course.
Fans of IN know the real fate of this fictionalized mother and daughter drama. The Girl with the Red Shoes died in her nineties or aged 102 (sources disagree) in Nice, France where she also had a comfortable war. Her book author-daughter IN was murdered in Auschwitz in 1942, aged 39. After the war, “Gladys” curtly refused to take care of IN’s two small daughters. They survived WW II in occupied France lugging along a small suitcase full of IN manuscripts and drafts of another 8 novels, including IN's unfinished masterpiece “Suite Française”.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was very good and kept me in suspense even though, early on I suspected that she shot her own grandson.Published 7 months ago by Kindle Customer
What a pleasure it is to read Nemirovsky's work. This novel surprised me greatly because of the magnificent twist at the novel's conclusion. Read morePublished 15 months ago by HardyBoy64
Madame Nemirovsky is a wonderful writer & she conveys exactly what she intends in a readable, understandable way. However, this book was hard to read. Read morePublished on May 9, 2013 by S. Griffith
This was a very thought provoking novel written by a women who was taken from us way too soon in a very cruel fashion, thus depriving us of many more great works of literature.Published on February 13, 2013 by Katherine T. Shumaker
A mother who was caught up in an eternal state of wanting acceptance through her beauty, therefore never being able to give love or recognition to her own daughter. Read morePublished on February 6, 2013 by Joyce Clark
I am a huge fan of Irene Nemirovsky. This novel was so lovely. No one writes like Nemirovsky. It makes me sad to think of the additional contributions she would have made to the... Read morePublished on January 10, 2013 by Amazon Customer