From Publishers Weekly
HighBridge has chosen exceptional readers for these remarkable novellas. Oreskes reads "Storm in June" in a clear, low storyteller's voice, changing tone to designate characters without trying to act out or be those characters. He handles Nemirovsky's black humor and irony with intelligence, and understates to great effect reactions from haughtiness to decency in the midst of panic and death as masses suddenly rush from Paris in the wake of Nazi bombings in 1940. Rosenblat has a husky Lauren Bacall voice that draws you into the dialectically complex relationship between French villagers and German occupiers in "Dolce." This is not a diary or a novel written years later in cool contemplation. These are historical novellas written while the author lived through the events. Yet with the detachment of hindsight and the craft of a fine, experienced author (she had successfully published nine novels), Nemirovsky shapes into novel form the stories of a small gallery of French Parisians and villagers and occupying German officers and soldiers, each with his or her national and personal idiosyncrasies and destinies. This was to have been the first of five novellas in an ongoing war saga, but in 1942 the Germans discovered the Jewish writer living in a small village. She was arrested and shipped to Auschwitz, and died a month later.
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Némirovsky wrote Suite Française
as the events that inspired them unfolded simultaneously; that alone makes the work remarkable. The first two novels came to light in 2004 (and were published to great acclaim in France) after Némirovsky's daughters revealed the existence of their mother's notebooks. With the author's notes about her next three novels (Captivity
, and Peace?
) included, it's clear that Némirovsky intended to write a sort of War and Peace
. Even without Némirovsky's astonishing perspective, critics agree that the novels' witty characterizations, mesmerizing prose, cinematic scenes, and insightful observations make these novels short masterpieces. The New York Times
expressed concern over characterization, and Newsday
noted the absence of discussion about Jews. Still, Suite Française
may be considered "the last great fiction of the war" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
).<BR>Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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