Chosen by Suzy
The story of the mass exodus from Paris on the eve of the Nazi invasion
☁ “Suite Francaise is the first two parts of a planned five part novel about the Nazi invasion of France and the mass exodus in which families and individuals were thrown together in circumstances beyond their control.
“Irène Némirovsky was a Ukrainian born writer living in France pre war. She fled Paris and the Nazis in 1940 to a small village where she began writing this work. Ironically it contained content of which she herself would fall victim to only two years later, for she was Jewish and was eventually arrested and sent to Auschwitz. She died there, aged 39, never seeing the completion of her novel. The handwritten first two parts were hidden in a suitcase and her daughters took them into hiding and eventually into freedom. Sixty four years later, the pages were published.
But what is certain is that in five, ten or twenty years, this problem unique to our time, according to him, will no longer exist, it will be replaced by others…Yet this music, the sound of this rain on the windows, the great mournful creaking of the cedar tree in the garden outside, this moment, so tender, so strange in the middle of war, this will never change, not this, this is forever.
“The first part, A Storm in June, opens in the chaos of the 1940 exodus from Paris. Those fleeing share nothing but the harsh demands of survival—some trying to maintain lives of privilege, others struggling simply to preserve their lives—but soon, all together, they are forced to face the awful truth of physical and emotional displacement, and annihilation of the world they know.
“In the second part, Dolce, the complex life of a German-occupied provincial village is detailed. Coexisting uneasily with the soldiers billeted among them, the villagers—from aristocrats to shopkeepers to peasants— cope as best they can. Some choose resistance, others collaboration, and as their community is transformed, the lives of these these men and women reveal the very essence of humanity.
“Because of the real life nature of the story, this book feels less like a novel and more like an experience. It is emotive and graphic and portrays the startling reality of many Parisians with tenderness and sympathy. This cleverly constructed and honest story was a hit with all the freerangers.