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Suite Française Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 11, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Celebrated in pre-WWII France for her bestselling fiction, the Jewish Russian-born Némirovsky was shipped to Auschwitz in the summer of 1942, months after this long-lost masterwork was composed. Némirovsky, a convert to Catholicism, began a planned five-novel cycle as Nazi forces overran northern France in 1940. This gripping "suite," collecting the first two unpolished but wondrously literary sections of a work cut short, have surfaced more than six decades after her death. The first, "Storm in June," chronicles the connecting lives of a disparate clutch of Parisians, among them a snobbish author, a venal banker, a noble priest shepherding churlish orphans, a foppish aesthete and a loving lower-class couple, all fleeing city comforts for the chaotic countryside, mere hours ahead of the advancing Germans. The second, "Dolce," set in 1941 in a farming village under German occupation, tells how peasant farmers, their pretty daughters and petit bourgeois collaborationists coexisted with their Nazi rulers. In a workbook entry penned just weeks before her arrest, Némirovsky noted that her goal was to describe "daily life, the emotional life and especially the comedy it provides." This heroic work does just that, by focusing—with compassion and clarity—on individual human dramas. (Apr. 18)
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From Bookmarks Magazine

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, Battles, 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.

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; Tra edition (April 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400044731
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400044733
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (595 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

537 of 567 people found the following review helpful By I. Martinez-Ybor VINE VOICE on April 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read much history about the 1940 fall of France, including such indispensible first person accounts as Bloch's "Strange Defeat," I have read nothing that captures the human experience of that debacle (arguably any debacle) as immediate and gripping as Ir?ne N?mirovsky's two novellas, all that was completed of what would have been the five part "Suite Fran?aise" (her title). Characters are as real as people we know well. They are vividly and deeply etched, with a focus and an economy of utterance that belie how engrained they become in the reader's mind. Without a central narrator, through the depiction of lives that in some cases are interlocking, in others tangential, indeed in most merely coeval, the feel of a world in dissolution has never been so effectively conveyed, both the general maelstrom and the personal experience. Transcending its time and place, it reminds us today how transitory everything is, how off-kilter, unbalanced, insecure life can suddenly become, indeed of the fragility of our existence, of how supporting structures such as class, belief, position, employ, wealth, can be swept away by happenstance or a tide of events we do not fully understand or foresee. When all material support is gone, all the characters (we) have left is what they (we) find within. For some, it's emptiness and pretension which always engender brutishness. Others are surprised by habits and qualities they took for granted or were not even aware they had: integrity, empathy, resourcefulness, even the grace and generosity inherent in good manners. Riches indeed. Ironically, the novelist as well as we, have always known that brutishness is not always punished nor does virtue always heal.

This novel speaks to the heart directly and, through the heart, to the intellect.
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128 of 132 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Frampton on November 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This novel bridges the divide between fact and fiction and as such is just my cup of tea. Irène Némirovsky, a successful Russian born novelist, was living in Paris at the start of the second world war - 1939. Although of Jewish parentage, she was in fact a Catholic, married and with two small children. By 1940 it was clear that France would be overthrown and Paris would be occupied by the Nazis. The Parisienne, and particularly the Jewish citizens of Paris, on hearing the guns of war outside their city, then proceeded by the thousands, to flee, and make for the rural communities of France hoping to avoid the wrath of the Nazis. In the case of the Jews, it was in order to save their lives. Némirovsky and her family fled to a small town in central France and she began to write the first of what she planned to be a series of four or five stories about the French experience during the war. She had completed her drafts of the first two of these, when she was discovered by the German SS and sent immediately to a concentration camp. Within a month, at the age of 39, she was executed. After a relatively short time her husband suffered the same fate. The children were taken by a friend and hidden from the Nazis for the duration of the war, and survived. They took their Mother's manuscript into hiding with them and some 60 years later, it was taken by Némirovsky's daughter, Denise Epstein to a publisher. It was published first in France, where it has already been very successful, and with a fine translation by Sandra Smith, now in English.Read more ›
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342 of 366 people found the following review helpful By Anne Garvey on March 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I think this is a wonderful book, so moving and beautifully written that you realize after only a few pages, that you are reading a timeless classic, something that

will endure for ever in the same way as the great works of Tolstoy or

Flaubert. Actually the author has all the lyricism of Tolstoy - and the

breadth of vision - but doesn't hammer on about her 'message' as he can do.

Think of those passages in Anna Karenina where the great man begins to

describe Levin and the ideal life in the country. There is none of this in

Suite Francaise. And the wonder of it is that you don't realize the author

was a Jew living life on borrowed time , exiled to the French countryside and

with the full knowledge of what this invasion meant for her personally and

her family. There is no fear in the book. It is essentially and creatively

feminine. That Irene Nemirovsky was about to be taken and killed , that she was a

Jew in the middle of a European abomination , this never intrudes. You

don't read the book for what the author suffered, despite her knowledge of

her own personal perilous position, she just lets her art take over so what

we get is a timeless brilliant classic which is so much more of an amazing

legacy to her and those who died than any personalized or angled account

could ever have been. What real heroism to do this, what an achievement, to

rise about the fear and humiliation and write this wonderful work. And the

translation is fantastic just because we don't notice it specially.
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