book review: suite francaise

A friend told me about Irene Nemirovsky last year some time and I read one of her books. That book was not Suite Francaise, her unfinished book about civilian life in occupied France. The book was unfinished because she was sent to Auschwitz, where she was killed. But now I’ve gotten to and finished Suite Francaise and it was good.

There are two parts to the novel (out of a projected 5). The first is about people escaping from Paris as the Germans approached. The second is about life in an occupied village, where German officers are billeting with French families. They were both very good, written in a light, straightforward style that got out of the way of itself. I absolutely hated a bunch of characters for being rich and hypocritical and weak and loved some of the others for being brave understated and strong.

Aileen and I have talked in the past about how we’re a bunch of frauds, not having a huge traumatic incident of history shaping our lives. And yes, war is terrible, but there’s something to be said of the shared experience of having lived through something catastrophic as opposed to shared memories of the ThunderCats. In the abstract sense of course.

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