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Austen to Zafón

Reading widely since 1972.

Currently reading

A London Family, 1870-1900: A Trilogy
Molly Hughes
The Cellist of Sarajevo
Steven Galloway
Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher
Lewis Thomas
All the Names
José Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa
A History of the World in 100 Objects
Neil MacGregor
Down the Garden Path
Beverley Nichols
Virtue Betray'd, Or, Anna Bullen
John Banks
Year of Wonders
Geraldine Brooks
Swallows and Amazons
Arthur Ransome
Illusion in java
Gene Fowler

Suite Francaise

Suite Francaise - Irène Némirovsky Nemirovsky, a well-regarded French novelist living in France, was also Russian Jew, although she had converted to Catholicism. While she was working on a suite of novellas about WWII Nazi-occupied France, she was arrested and taken to Auschwitz, where she was gassed at age 39. There were supposed to be five novellas in the series, but she had only finished two. Her husband was killed in a camp soon after she was, but their two daughters stayed hidden & eventually escaped to the States. One daughter managed to hang onto a suitcase containing what she believed were her mother's diaries & notes, but she did not look at them for *fifty* years, thinking they'd be too painful to read. It wasn't until the late 1990's that she took a look at them and discovered the novellas. They were published in 2004, 60+ years after they were written.

Nemirovsky is a clear and passionate writer. She creates memorable, detailed, and not always sympathetic characters. As her daughter Denise said, "She could look inside the human soul and make music with her words." She also evokes the tension beween classes that the occupation exacerbated and the ways in which people cope with not knowing what will happen, not knowing whom to trust. The That she was writing about these events as they were happening and that the stories end abruptly because of her death make them that much more compelling. This isn't a book about war or battles; it's about what happens to people when occupation erodes the facade of politeness and false charity. I look forward to reading more of Nemirovsky's work.