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Penguin Random House

Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky

$ 16.95

Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky

Penguin Random House

Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky

$ 16.95

Beginning in Paris on the eve of the Nazi occupation in 1940, Suite Française tells the remarkable story of men and women thrown together in circumstances beyond their control. As Parisians flee the city, human folly surfaces in every imaginable way: a wealthy mother searches for sweets in a town without food; a couple is terrified at the thought of losing their jobs, even as their world begins to fall apart. Moving on to a provincial village now occupied by German soldiers, the locals must learn to coexist with the enemy—in their town, their homes, even in their hearts.

When Irène Némirovsky began working on Suite Française, she was already a highly successful writer living in Paris. But she was also a Jew, and in 1942 she was arrested and deported to Auschwitz, where she died. For sixty-four years, this novel remained hidden and unknown.

About Irene Nemirovsky

Irène Némirovsky was born in Kiev in 1903. The daughter of a Jewish Ukranian banker and raised with a love of French culture, she was sixteen when she and her family settled in Paris. Ten years later, her novel "David Golder" thrust her to the forefront of the French literary scene. The dozen books and short stories she wrote over the following decade earned her admiration and caused controversy too, with their violent lucidity and cruel descriptions of a world destined to disappear.

The Occupation and the Vichy regime's anti-Semitic laws put an end to her brilliant career. Irène was forbidden from publishing and reduced to selling her writing under a pseudonym to the newspapers that would still print her. She retreated to the Burgundy village of Issy-l'Evêque with her husband, Michael Epstein, and their two daughters, Denise and Élisabeth. To help fill the void created by exile, Irene began an extraordinary project. She would tell the story of the war as it was unfolding in five volumes taken straight from current events.

Two novels were born, written in her cramped handwriting in a leatherbound notebook, "Storm in June" (Tepête en juin) and "Dolce," under the series title "Suite française." That headlong creative period was halted when she was arrested by French police on July 13, 1942. She was sent to Auschwitz and died there, from typhus it is believed, a month later.