Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

I am usually not a fan of books set during modern wars, but this was an exception. As an American, WWII evokes images of Pearl Harbor for me. Very seldom have I stopped to think about European front, aside from the Holocaust. Therefore, it was eye opening to read this novel about the German invasion and occupation of France. The book is split into two parts (before the author, a Jew living in Paris, was killed she intended for Suite Francaise to be a five part novel); the first part follows several different groups of people on their exodus from Paris to the countryside as the Germans make their way into the city. The second part concentrates on a small, German-occupied village and follows two different households as they harbor conflicting feelings about the Germans who are living in their houses: Should they hate them simply because of their country of origin, or should they hold themselves to a highers standard and treat them as if they are just normal people? The most gripping facet of part two is the story of a woman who has burgeoning feelings for the German officer living in her household, but knows nothing can ever come of it. What is so striking about this book is the realness of it all. Seeing as how the auther herself ended up being a victim of this very war, it is written through knowing eyes. War is war, and there are no happy endings, but this is most certainly a worthy read.

1 comment:

  1. i was impressed by her insight into the french mindset during those early years of the occupation - i feel like she has an amazing perspective despite the fact that she was living through it. most of the time, it takes decades to get that kind of understanding. what a loss for literature the fact that she never got to finish it.