Sunday, August 3, 2008

Suite Française - (BATS June)

Having missed most of June's meeting, where we discussed Pesthouse (Jim Crace), I found that I was away altogether for the July meeting where the discussion was on Irène Némirovsky's Suite Française - the book I chose!
I read it before the 'proper' month, as I was going to be away, so it seems a long time ago now. It seemed to be mostly enjoyed - by others - telling the story of the fall of France in 1940 and the flight from Paris, the second half of the book deals with the consequences of occupation. A breathtaking novel - as it seems to stand back from the events - and yet it was written in 1941-2 and its composition terminated by Némirovsky's arrest, transportation to a concentration camp and death. The (incomplete) novel was only published in 2004. The Guardian review is here:
In the fictional world of Suite Française, everything is in flux. Some are stunned, while others already jockey for position in the new order. A few prepare themselves to resist. But nothing is abstract; everything is made present, whether it's the cherries on the pillow, the privileged little dinner that Corte secures for himself and which is then snatched away by a hungry man, or the sound of music drifting over a lake at evening while young German soldiers celebrate. Perhaps Némirovsky's most extraordinary achievement is the humanity of these individual Germans, and the sense of tragedy when their celebration dissolves at the news that Germany has invaded the Soviet Union. Their dreams of peace vanish; fantasies of a bargain between conquerors and conquered cannot survive.

Strongly recommended!

1 comment:

Elizabeth Sinnreich said...

I recently read your post about Irène Némirovsky and wanted to let you know about an exciting new exhibition about her life, work, and legacy that will open on September 24, 2008 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage —A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York City. Woman of Letters: Irène Némirovsky and Suite Française, which will run through the middle of March, will include powerful rare artifacts — the actual handwritten manuscript for Suite Française, the valise in which it was found, and many personal papers and family photos. The majority of these documents and artifacts have never been outside of France. For fans of her work, this exhibition is an opportunity to really “get to know” Irene. And for those who can’t visit, there will be a special website that will live on the Museum’s site
The Museum will host several public programs over the course of the exhibition’s run that will put Némirovsky’s work and life into historical and literary context. Book clubs and groups are invited to the Museum for tours and discussions in the exhibition’s adjacent Salon (by appointment). It is the Museum’s hope that the exhibit will engage visitors and promote dialogue about this extraordinary writer and the complex time in which she lived and died. To book a group tour, please contact Tracy Bradshaw at 646.437.4304 or Please visit our website at for up-to-date information about upcoming public programs or to join our e-bulletin list.
Thanks for sharing this info with your readers. Let me know if you need any more.

-Elizabeth Sinnreich (