Monday, August 6, 2007

Suite Francaise

The story behind this book is nearly as interesting as the book itself. The author, Irene Nemirosky, was a Frenchwoman of Jewish ancestry, who had converted to Catholicism before World War Two began. She had completed the first two books of a five book cycle about the War, when she was sent to Auschwitz, and was killed. Her daughters found her notebooks, but only sixty years later did they realize what the notebooks contained. The first book tells of the flight or attempted flight of various Frenchmen, both Jewish and Gentile, likable and not on the eve of the German invasion. The second book, tells of everyday life in a rural French community under German occupation. Some of the characters overlap and the end of the book contains her notes hinting where the work would have gone had she lived to complete it. A memorable book, both for what it is and and for its unfulfilled promise.

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