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A Microcosm of World War II From the People Who Lived It,
This review is from: Suite Française (Hardcover)
The story behind the publication of Suite Francaise is exceptional. Author Irene Nemirovsky was a Jewish woman living in France at the time of World War II. Already a published author respected for her wonderfully literate style, she had a premonition the end was near. As the Nazis marched into France, and the French rolled over for them, she knew her days were numbered. But still she worked, writing for hours everyday, sometimes cycling for miles to find the perfect isolated spot in which to work on her novel.
As it turned out, she was right to feel paranoid. The knock on her door did come, and she was taken to Auschwitz where she died of disease just a month later.
The manuscript of Suite Francaise wasn't published until 60 years following Nemirovsky's death. In the possession of one of her daughters, it wasn't delivered to publishers until the woman became an editor at a publishing house.
Even without the backstory, the book itself is beautiful. It captures the time of World War II in France in such vivid detail it's like a film rather than a novel. Everything from fear to greed to patriotism is represented, from the time the war begins to its end. Bombs drop on railroad depots, people are killed and mangled, and mothers desperately run with their children in an attempt to get away from the carnage to find safety. Food becomes so scarce people do violence to each other in order to get what scraps they can. Perhaps most disturbingly of all, a group of orphans loses all grip on humanity, murdering and stealing with what can only be described as a manic glee. Suite Francaise is a microcosm of the war from the perspective of those who lived it.