Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Last summer, I borrowed Irene Nemirovsky's Fire in the Blood from the library. It is a collection of short stories set in rural France during and after World War II. They are fairly chilling depictions of human nature. None of these characters are people you'd want to spend a lot of time with.
But I wasn't able to borrow a copy of Suite Francaise, so I bought it and took it to New Orleans with me. I have been trying to figure out what to write about it since I finished it. Even if you don't take into account the fact that Nemirovsky had planned it to be a much bigger novel until the French police intervened, it's really extraordinary. My personal favorite is a narcissistic gentleman of letters, who meets his ignoble end (and he's been pretty ignoble all the way through) in a blacked-out Paris. You believe all these characters, their fears, their interior monologues, who collaborates and who doesn't, how far can one go before one is a traitor, their meals (food is key here). The novel is as good as the hype.