In June 1940 France fell to the Nazis. The effects of this momentous event on the lives of ordinary Parisians and the inhabitants of a small rural community under occupation are brilliantly explored in Irène Némirovsky’s gripping and heart-breaking novel. Némirovsky herself was a tragic victim of the Nazi regime but she left behind her this exceptional masterpiece. In Suite Française she conjures up a vivid cast of wonderful characters who find themselves thrown together in ways they never expected. Amidst the mess of defeat, and all the hypocrisy and compromise, there is hope. True nobility and love exist, but often in surprising places.
©2006 Irene Nemirovsky (P)2011 Random House AUDIO GO
I wanted to hear this book before seeing the movie. While I enjoyed the tale I was puzzled why the narrator chose to do the whole thing with a British accent sometimes even slipping into a Yorkshire accent to create the voices of the "common folk", yet added a German accent for the German military! The whole thing lost atmosphere with the lack of a good French accent.
The end was a fizzed for me.
"A story of the people left behind"
There has been a lot said about his book, it's author and how it came to be published. What many have failed to highlight was the story of the people displaced by war and those who would pilfer from a neighbour rather than ask. The story of how life is a struggle for the locals left to get on with an occupying force. Love. Hate. Murder. It's all in this book which has made the leap from paperback to audiobook beautifully.
"Brilliant narration of this intelligent book."
Loved this! Read as well as listened to this beautiful, intelligent and heartrending account of human behaviour in a small provincial town in France overwhelmed by the invading German army in the 1940s. Provincial jealousies, self righteous arrogance and bitter resentments, desires and dreams frustrated by occupation but also with empathy for the soldiers of an occupying army. The exodus from Paris as the Germans march in - fears magnifying intrenched behaviours of selfishness, possessiveness and class divisions.
A tapestry of humanity in microcosm at a time of extreme stress.
Suite Française is even better than I had expected. It is so revealing of the events at the beginning of the Second World War in France, the attitude of both the French and the occupying German soldiers. It is extremely well written and although there are many characters they are easy to follow through the story. They come to life, their inner thinking explored. They feel very real. I felt a whole gamut of emotions for each of them as if I had actually known them personally.
The reading is clear and exact and in tune with each situation and character. A great book, an excellent narrator.
hard to get into the story " for me anyway" but worth the effort. some very unpleasant people in this book. xx
"Learnt a lot"
Vivid characters, non judgemental account of how different French people responded to the Nazi invasion of France.
Superb book. The story of the book's genesis certainly adds to how impressive it is.
I have not read the print version or seen the film, in fact I had no real knowledge of the story so did not have any preconceived expectations of the story although I was aware of the authors fate.
The Michaud's and Lucille.
It was a book I listened to often but there are so many characters you have to give it your full attention otherwise you would lose the thread, it also made me want to stop so that I was able to digest what I had heard. Irene's voice is very loud throughout this story, yes it is a work of fiction but she was clearly writing from experience as she observed events unfolding around her. It was a story that she didn't know the ending to. At the start she wrote almost as a reporter would, it felt like she wanted to record facts and let the world to know about the shocking and callous behaviour of some of the refugees.
I can't decide how I feel about this book. It is exceptional well written, the duplicity, vileness of some of the characters is repellent. There is a deep bitterness which I feel can only have been born from Irene's own perilous situation, how could it not have been, but surprisingly it was aimed more at the French population than the German troops. The selfishness and awfulness of a lot of the characters in the first part of the book, the great scramble away from Paris, made it hard to connect or care what happened to any of them. The reason I persevered in the early stages was to see if the most odious of them got their just desserts.The second part of the story is very different, written about the occupation of a village the characters are more connected, the story is easier to keep track off and it has more of a sense of direction. Interestinglying the German occupiers were written in a much more flattering light than their French counterparts. The Germans came across as glamorous, reasonable and their faults were portrayed in a more forgiving way.I did enjoy the story, it is poignant, thought provoking and writes about things that have been airbrushed overtime.There is a section about the author at the end, I found this to be the best part, if only if it made sense to some of her writing and explained her state of mind and situation at the time she was writing the story.
"slow burner which keeps you thinking"
I saw the movie a while a go and thought it was a bit pants, so I wanted to listen to the book it was adapted from. What you have to keep remembering is that this was only a first draft sp it was never a finished ornpolished book. I do think that if Irene had had time she would have turned this into possibly the best Holocaust book ever written. it has never made me hate the Nazis more that they destroyed such an incredible talent.
"Unfinished but unforgettable"
I would because the writing is frank and intimate, creating rounded characters through a mixture of internal perspectives. Carol Boyd reads it beautifully, and doesn't attempt French accents for the characters but gets under their skin to express their emotions.
Learning more about the occupation of France during WWII which I didn't know too much about beforehand. It is obviously and tragically an unfinished novel, and one can't help but yearn for the planned third part to see what the author had in store for her many characters.
Lucile in the second half because we see everything from her perspective and can relate to her as the main protagonist, her life completely upheaved by war, causing her to reconsider her choices and commit brave actions.
Occupied territory, lonely hearts.
I have read the paperback and was disappointed that this audiobook doesn't include the appendices - letters written by Irene Nemirovsky to her agents, and to her family once she was captured; and from her husband to her agents, desperately asking after her whereabouts and welfare. They provide crucial background and context as to why the novel was never completed, and painfully document how a successful novelist and her family were torn apart by the Holocaust, like so many.
"A flavour of France during the Second World War"
Don't know - didn't read the print version, but generally, print is better.
As the occupation of France continued, an uneasy peace broke out between the invader and the invaded, but the peace was fragile. There were too many characters for my linking, and I'd have preferred to focus in on a few of them.
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