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- More About Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky; Sandra SmithOverviewBeginning in Paris on the eve of the Nazi occupation in 1940. "Suite Francaise" tells the remarkable story of men and women thrown together in circumstances beyond their control. As Parisians flee the city, human folly surfaces in every imaginable way: a wealthy mother searches for sweets in a town without food; a couple is terrified at the thought of losing their jobs, even as their world begins to fall apart. Moving on to a provincial village now occupied by German soldiers, the locals must learn to coexist with the enemy--in their town, their homes, even in their hearts.
When Irene Nemirovsky began working on "Suite Francaise," she was already a highly successful writer living in Paris. But she was also a Jew, and in 1942 she was arrested and deported to Auschwitz, where she died. For sixty-four years, this novel remained hidden and unknown.
A best-selling author in France prior to World War II, Némirovsky, a Russian-born Jew, was deported to Auschwitz in 1942, cutting short her plans to write a quintet of novels about life in France under the Nazis. The two novellas she managed to complete are featured in Suite Française, a book that has been hailed as a masterpiece and a milestone of World War II literature. The first narrative in the book, "Storm in June," recounts the evacuation of Paris during the German invasion of 1940. Némirovsky follows various Parisians as they try to make their escape, delivering portraits of numerous families and the people they meet as the net of the Nazis closes around them. The second novella, "Dolce," looks at life in a rural village under German occupation, as the nativesshop owners, wealthy aristocrats and farm laborers alikeare forced to open their homes to the soldiers. Some of the villagers acquiesce to the demands of the Germans, while others resist. Némirovsky uses the varied reactions of her characters to explore the nature of humanity itself, and the results are chilling. In both parts, she looks at issues of class and race, writing from a perspective that modern readers will find invaluable. Némirovsky entrusted the manuscripts to her daughters upon her arrest, and 64 years after the fact, they shed haunting light on one of the darkest periods in world history.