I heard raves about Suite Francaise from other volunteers at the library. I picked it up before the December sale in 2009, and it has been sitting in my bookcase since then.
The history of the book is as interesting as the text. Nemirovsky was a Ukrainian Jew living in Paris when the Germans arrived in 1940. She was already a published writer and had known some success before being arrested and sent to a camp in 1942, where she died. This book contains two of five novellas she had planned – they were lost for years.
A Storm in June is about the mass exodus from Paris in advance of the German Army. The disregard of the characters for other people was disturbing. And perhaps a bit too real. Particularly interesting was the shock, dismay and utter helplessness of the wealthier people when their money couldn’t buy the things they needed. Hotel rooms, gasoline, even food.
Dolce chronicles an occupied village. German soldiers are living in the homes of the French families and it is a study of the conquerors and the conquered starting to see each other as real people, as opposed to a faceless enemy. You know something’s gotta give.
The sense of perspective here is really impressive, particularly since the author was living it as she was writing it. There was no hint of the concentration camps – merely the concept of “prisoner of war”. The world really lost something when it lost Nemirovsky. Damn Nazis.
I thought the book was a bit depressing… then again considering the subject matter, that makes sense.