Tag Archive: Suite Francaise

suite-francaiseTitle: Suite Française

Author: Irène Némirovsky

Date Finished: 7/05/14

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : The Classics Club

Overall: 4/5 – rather good

This is a powerful read!  I’m not quite sure where the recommendation of reading this book came from for me, but it was always on my TBR in the future list even before I started book blogging.  I assume I found it on some list of “best books to read” or something, but I would certainly recommend it.  It focuses on how the Nazi occupation of France in WWII actually affected the French people, which was a really interesting viewpoint.

The books is split into two novellas, the first focuses on Parisians and how they cope with France being defeated and Germans starting to flood into their country.  The second book is set in a rural village that becomes occupied by the Nazis and deals with how the local people adapt to their new neighbours.

The plot is quite intricate as there are quite a few main characters – a couple of bank workers, a pompous author, a rich family and more and each short chapter focuses on one of these different character groups.  Initially this can be a little confusing but you get used to the characters and everything starts to flow quite naturally after the first few chapters.  In the second novella, there are slightly fewer characters but the storylines are more developed.  I found the two novellas equally compelling but the second did tail off slightly and it took me a few days just to get round the finishing off the whole book.

The characterisation is very good but you do feel like Némirovsky has a lot more to say and the characters have a lot more to do.  I think I read somewhere that Suite Française is actually incomplete and that Némirovsky had planned to write some more novellas to make it into a whole ‘suite’, but she was taken to Auschwitz herself and died there before she could complete it.  This is probably why the ending seems a little abrupt and some of the plots seem to be slightly unfinished.  It’s awfully sad that we will never get to hear all of what Irène wanted to say with this book, but I would like to think that I might be able to read this book in its original French to see how it reads in that (I own it already).  I would also like to read some of Némirovsky’s other works, as this one was so unique and interesting.

I would definitely recommend reading this book – it is very touching and gives you such a massive insight into an area of history that many of us are (probably) quite unfamiliar with.  To see something through the eyes of people in their day-to-day lives always gives you more perception and empathy than reading history textbooks ever can, even if the actual plot is fiction, I find.  A very interesting and powerful read.

Every week, The Broke and The Bookish poses a category for book bloggers to post their ‘Top Ten’ in that week’

This week is a free week for us to decide on a category for ourselves.  I saw that Jillian had picked the top 10 books she was looking forward to reading from The Classics Club and I thought this was a great idea, so I have ‘borrowed’ it!

For my full Classics Club list and details about the challenge, click here.

  1. Villette – Charlotte Brontë:  I am most looking forward to this because everything I’ve heard about it suggests I will love it – I loved Jane Eyre, really enjoyed Wuthering Heights and people have said it’s ‘full of French’ which is a language that I love!
  2. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens:  I have been looking forward to re-reading this for a long time, as I didn’t really get it the first time (I was too young).  On top of that, I bought a stunning edition the other day (a new Penguin English Library edition!) so I can’t wait to get into it.
  3. To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee:  This is (possibly) my favourite book of all time so I can’t wait to read it again and see if I enjoy it even more (or maybe less).
  4. King Lear – William Shakespeare:  I saw this play at the Tobacco Factory Theatre in Bristol in February and it was absolutely amazing.  I really loved reading Much Ado About Nothing, so I am anticipating my next dose of Shakespeare.
  5.  The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins:  I don’t seem to have read a negative word about Collins recently and it’s so exciting to get into a new author – especially if there is a great mystery to look forward to!
  6. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons:  Again, I am going by recommendation – I have heard this book is hilarious.  It is not too long, hopefully not too hard to read and I have a feeling it will be a pleasure to read.
  7. Middlemarch – George Eliot:  I am just as scared of reading this mammoth volume as I am excited!  It is so long I might have to stagger reading it through the summer, although I did plan to do that with David Copperfield and loved it so much I just powered through!  I am excited about getting into a new author and considering it is number 1 on Daily Telegraph’s list of ‘100 novels everyone should read’, I have great expectations for it (see what I did there?!).
  8. Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens :  As I’ve already mentioned, I loved David Copperfield so can’t wait to get stuck into another massive Dickens!  This one is meant to be quite funny too (I think?) so I should enjoy it.
  9. Suite Française – Irène Némirovsky:  This book is all about Nazi occupied France and I think I’ll find it really interesting.  Also, I bought a lovely edition (Vintage 21) in Vienna so it looks amazing on my shelf!
  10. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen:   I recently read Emma and really enjoyed it, so I am looking forward to getting stuck into some more Austen – I have bought Pride and Prejudice and plan to read it next Christmastime.  Also, I will finally be able to say I have read this iconic book!