Suite Francaise
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Beginning in Paris on the eve of the Nazi occupation in 1940. Suite Fran?aise 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 Ir¨¨ne N¨¦mirovsky began working on Suite Fran?aise, 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.

Customer Reviews:

  • Suite Francaise
    Amazing!!!!! I love this book!!! I've told everyone I know about this book. This book really makes you think. It makes you laugh. It makes you really appreciate the life and freedom you have. Truley amazing. I couldn't wait to get home every day and read it....more info
  • Suite Francaise
    It is a shame we will never be able to read the entire body of work Irene Namirovske had planned. I enjoyed reading the first two parts and also felt the two appendices were valuable. The first indicated Namirovsky's plan for her 5 part Suite. The second were the frantic and poignant letters that were sent in a vain attempt to save her life....more info
  • One in a million
    Read the preface by Myriam Anissimov (Wouldn't the story of Ir¨¨ne N¨¦mirovski's life make the most compelling of biographies?). Then leave her own tragic story set in the background. Read both novellas and don't forget the exchange of hearthbreaking letters between her husband and her publisher, both trying to find out about her after her arrest. And last but not least try to read it in her beautiful, easy, simple French. Tempete en Juin portrays the lives of ordinary people caught in that extraodinary exodus of June 1940 in a dispassionate, vivid and ironic way. Dolce offers an unusual account of the daily confrontation between villagers and Nazis in occupied France.
    I haven't possibly read anything as powerful and masterful in years....more info
  • constantreader
    This book was recommended to me by a friend who read it for her book club. The book was interesting and held my attention the entire way through. But the ending was horrible. No epilogue. I found myself frantically searching through the discussion questions to see if I had somehow missed the ending. It just stopped. Awful! It made me feel as though I had wasted my time reading it....more info
  • Suite Francaise
    This is a unique view, from The French, on the Nazi occupation. Easy to read and engrossing....more info
  • Unique WWII Insight
    This book gives a unique insight into the French having to house the German soldiers, showing the humane side - both good and bad -of both nationalities. A very interesting read....more info
  • Amazing Discovery
    I'm in a Book Club for retired teachers so our monthy selections are on varied topics to say the least. We had just finished reading a book about World security. I was speaking to my daughter, who is a professor in Scotland, about our newest book when she asked me if I had read "Suite Francaise". This fasinated me after she gave me some of the author's background.This book was written during the war while the author was living in France. The characters are ficticious ,representing different classes at the time . She decribes how it was living in France during that time when the government did not tell the people what was going on until it was too late and they tried to run for their lives.She invites us into each character's life and follows at least 3 whose families come from different stations in life. How she wrote this book, discribed these peoples reactions from all over France when she wasn't even in many parts of France is amazing. Reading her Bio first is a must ....more info
  • HELP!!!!
    I'm trying.....I'm really trying to like this book!! I was excited when I bought it and couldn't wait to start reading it.......well, a few pages into it, I kept thinking.....HUH??!! It's extremely confusing, it jumps all over the place from a set of characters to others, and does not grip you, at all. Some review, I believe listed in the book, said that this book was better than the Diary of Anne Frank, don't fall for that!! I'm on page 108, and I've been struggling to get that far within a week, where, usually, I can read that much (and more) within a day. If you haven't bought this your money, unless you feel you may be like some of the others who wrote a review on how great this book was. Wish me luck, I'm going to keep on reading, after all $14.95 plus tax is $14.95.........I may not finish, but I will try in her memory and I believe every person has a story to tell. I don't know if this book has a section on her life, her story, I do hope so.

    ...more info
  • Suite Francaise
    This novel is remarkable in several ways: how it came to be published, its structure, and it contains the author's notes and correspondence during this period. And it's a good read.

    Russian-born Ir¨¨ne N¨¦mirovsky established herself as a writer in Paris in 1929 at age twenty-six with the publication of her first novel, David Golder, which was an overnight success. She began Suite Francaise early in the 1940s. From her notes, it's clear that the story was meant to be an epic novel; however, Nemirovsky was taken by the Germans in July 1942 and died in a concentration camp in August. Fortunately, friends were able to take her two young daughters away before they were captured. As a remembrance, the daughters took with them what they thought was their mother's journals. It was more than fifty years later before they could bring themselves to read them. What they discovered were the two novellas their mother had written that were the beginnings of a larger novel, which would be published as Suite Francaise.

    Though this is a novel, its origins clearly were in Nemirovsky's own experiences. When World War II broke out, she and her husband took their daughters to the countryside outside Paris to stay. The couple continued to live in Paris for a while, commuting to see the girls, before they eventually also left.

    From the beginning, this book draws you in and transports to that time and place. The author's sense of place and understanding of human nature is reflected over and over in the lives of the characters who flee the Nazi occupation of Paris. Though the individuals are very different, they reflect the same sense of denial over what is happening to them. How they cope with the change in their own lives and with what is happening to their country is what Nemirovsky writes about so beautifully. She presents the German soldiers in the same way she presents her French characters--as human beings caught in a terrible tragedy. She doesn't make the Germans appear as the "bad guys," but tells a story that rings with truth.

    The book's translator indicates that Nemirovsky envisioned the entire book to be like a musical composition. It's too bad that we were denied this. These two novellas give you enough to imagine what a great composition it would have been.

    by Penny Appleby
    for Story Circle Book Reviews
    reviewing books by, for, and about women...more info
  • Suite Francaise
    I loved this book! It was clear by the end that the author had intended it to be part of a series... I was sad to see it end (somewhat) unfinished. I loved the stories and if you like reading about the French, you'll get a kick out of this book. A good read, indeed. :)...more info
  • Heart Wrenchingly Beautiful
    Irene Nemirovsky was a Russian Jew who lived in France during the Nazi occupation prior to being deported to Auschwitz where she was almost immediately murdered. This incomplete novel was written during France's occupation.
    The first of two novellas in "Suite Francaise", "June Storm", dealt with the initial bombing of France and showed several people's behavior while being forced to evacuate their Parisian homes.
    In the second novella, "Dolce", many of the main characters in the first novella are alluded to, but the story centers around one family and the German Nazi who lives with them.
    What is so remarkable about Nemirovsky's work, is that she refuses to stereotype people, even while she is being persecuted by them. She looks for, and finds, humanity, where lesser writers would find only contempt.
    If anyone would have told me that I would have had compassion for a 20 year old Nazi who had to leave France to fight in Russia, I would have bet against it. Yet this writer's skill compels you to look beyond your own biases to see complexities in dreadful situations....more info
  • Buy this book!
    Why I had this on the shelf for a year I don't know. Well, not true -- I do know. I was afraid as some other reviewers have said, that it would be heavy and depressing. But it is not at all. It is a wonderful narrative and description of France in wartime -- in real time. Others have said so much -- if you have read this far, take a chance -- you won't be disappointed!...more info
  • Suite Francaise
    The book was a selection for a book group. I knew nothing of it before. The author's style was unique and satisfying. The appendices were particularly valuable. One gave a look into the way an author can structure the actual writing of a novel. The other presented the history of the author and the book. I will look for her other novels. Sadly the author was lost to the Holocaust or there could have been more....more info
  • Expected to love it, gave up on it.
    I had heard such great things about this book, so was really looking forward to reading it. I read to chapter 22, then quit. I thought it was extremely boring and very slow moving. I agree with some of the other reviewers that the author's situation and the subsequent discovery of her manuscript was so intriguing, I expected the book to be the same, but I was very disappointed....more info
  • Bittersweet
    Wonderfully written with insight into the emotional strain inflicted on people who have no say in times of war. As the characters unfolded, a long process at that, the reader feels a since of hopelessness not so much because of the war but because freedom had been taken from these people. The German soldiers were as much victims of a bad government as the people in occupied France. I'd give this book five stars if it didn't take so long to weed out how the characters were connected. A sense of sadness lingers. Wil A. Emerson ...more info
  • Intimate Lives of French Families During World War Two
    The book provides an intimate look into the lives of some French families just prior, during and after the German invasion of Paris and the surrounding areas. These persepectives show the different social classes of the French and also provide a small glimpse into the day to day interaction with German officers and soldiers....more info
  • Haunting
    Yes, it is obvious that it hasn't been edited but that doesn't detract from the beauty. Language is wound like ribbons, outlining the pictures of the characters, framing them and revealing them slowly.

    The desperation, fear and transient nature of the characters fall off the page, revealing a landscape littered with the machinations of war. Characters come alive in mere fragments of sentences, the nature of war evident on every page, filling the reader with an intense feeling of dread and discomfort.

    The writing is gifted, delicious and terrific. Not to be missed. ...more info
  • Put this at the top of your "To Read" list
    "Suite Fran?aise" is one of the most amazing books I've read this year. The first part of the book, "Storm in June," depicts the lives of various characters as they struggle with the beginning of the Great War and the German invasion/occupation of Paris. All of the characters are equally fascinating, and the author distinguishes how people from opposite classes responded to the same situations. The second half of the book, "Dolce," revolves around the year-long German occupation of a small French village. This portion of the book details the story of a French woman who falls in love with a German officer, and also conspires to protect a fellow villager who is wanted for the murder of another German.

    Ir¨¨ne N¨¦mirovsky was an amazing novelist. "Suite Fran?aise" is one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read. Every page is absolutely captivating, as are the numerous characters and vivid descriptions of these tragic events. What's even more amazing than this book is N¨¦mirovsky's own story: She was a Jewish, Russian immigrant who wrote this novel before she died at Auschwitz in 1942. N¨¦mirovsky's daughters possessed the "Suite Fran?aise" manuscript for more than 60 years without knowing what it was. Eventually, the book was discovered and became a bestseller in 2004, decades after N¨¦mirovsky's death.

    I sincerely cannot say enough great things about this book. It's an amazing story about war and foreign occupation that, in a sad twist of irony, was written by a woman who would pay the ultimate price during that exact same period in history. "Suite Fran?aise" is a book that should definitely be read by everyone....more info
  • Saintly German soldiers and despicable French citizens
    Nemirovsky depicts the German soldiers who occupy a French farming village as noble, handsome, blond, decent, refined, educated, having impeccable manners and bearing, gallant in their elegant uniforms and on their beautiful mounts, respectful of French property, and anxious not to tweak the resentment or hurt the feelings of the defeated local population. We're to shed bitter tears for the young lads as they march off at the end of the book, dispatched to the Russian front.

    The only less-than-noble German soldier is the base commander's emotionally erratic translator. Lieutenant Bonnet exhibits momentary flashes of sadism. However, we soon learn he's not really German -- he's of French descent and is marked with a name of French origin.

    In contrast to the noble Nazi -- excuse me, German -- soldiers, the French villagers are mostly petty, vulgar (the farmers) or pompous (the aristocrats), money-grubbing, and hateful collaborators. The sole exception is the beautiful, blond Lucille. ("Blond" seems to be a marker for an admirable person.) She's married to an absent, boorish husband held captive in a German prisoner of war camp. The lonely, affection-starved Lucille has a dashing German cavalry officer as a border; he's been billeted to her grand manse, the most beautiful house in the village. There's no avoiding that Nemirovsky has here set up the plot-line of a trite bodice ripper.

    The rather far-fetched back story of SUITE FRANCAISE is that the manuscript remained unread in a suitcase owned by Nemirovsky's daughter since 1942 and was only recently rediscovered and reclaimed. However, it's more reasonable to surmise that the book was far too pro-German and anti-French to have been released earlier. It's no longer impossible in polite society to mention sympathetically the suffering of the German people during World War II and to consider that, yes, they were victims too. It's hard to know how far the pendulum will swing in this direction, but it currently has quite a bit of momentum. Take, for instance, Nicholson Baker's HUMAN SMOKE (2008), which puts the Allies and the Nazis on the same moral plane.

    Nemirovsky says 2 million Frenchmen surrendered to the Germans but few died defending their families and homeland. In fact, in the two-months-long Battle of France, 90,000 French soldiers were killed and 200,000 were wounded, or roughly as many casualties as America suffered over the entire Second World War, proportionate to our greater population (40,500,000 versus 132,000,000).

    Why the blatantly pro-Nazi, anti-French stance of SUITE FRANCAISE didn't arouse critical comment when the book was published in France -- not to mention anger and censure -- is a mystery to me. One possible explanation is that we have a weakness for imbuing victims with saintly characteristics. The Nazis murdered Nemirovsky at Auschwitz, so she must have been holy, blameless and above reproach. Her book acquired an aura of goodness that blinds readers to its actual contents.

    The omniscient narrator of SUITE FRANCAISE (probably Nemirovsky herself) writes on page 291: "What separates or unites people is not their language, their laws, their customs, their principles, but the way they hold their knife and fork." Nemirovsky probably did not entirely forget she was a Jew but her primary identity was with the aristocracy of her birth and upbringing in the Russian royal court, before the Bolsheviks ended that society of extreme privilege. Had she self-identified as a Jew, she most likely would have fled to Switzerland with her husband and two daughters when they had the opportunity. Instead, she seems to have felt closer kinship with the groups persecuting Jews, never imagining they'd turn on her too. On page 334, Nemirovsky writes: "Who dared predict the future? Although that's all people did... and always in vain."
    ...more info
  • Yes, yes, it IS worth five stars!
    This book was highly recommended to me by someone with great taste in books. After purchasing it, I apparently read a few pages, and set it aside; I found the bookmark only several pages into it when I opened it again last night.
    Some rapt hours later, I finished it, stunned I had EVER put it down before. I then read all the other appended information about the author and her family, including her murder at only 39 by the Nazis, after she had finished only two parts of the planned five in the "suite."
    Today I have looked through the Amazon reviews, and have to wonder about those people who give it only a few stars, and complain it has too many characters. Didn't they ever read Tolstoy? Dostoyevsky? Sometimes I needed a chart to keep the characters straight! That certainly didn't keep me from recognizing the greatness of the novels.
    Now to check out her other works. Her ability to change "voice" with each character is so subtle, yet so convincing I felt I was inside their thoughts. I can't wait to read more of her.
    Please, if you can't get into this in the first few pages, find a little block of time and go further. It WILL be worth it. ...more info
  • painfully boring
    After the raving book reviews, I was eager to read this book. Unfortunately, I could hardly finish it and persevered only because I just knew it had to get better. It didn't! Though well-written, I found most of the characters unlikable and underdeveloped. Worse yet, the ending was dissatisfying and incomplete, which I guess should be expected since the book is, in fact, only the first two parts of a planned five part novel. Not a book I would recommend to my fellow "casual readers"....more info
  • Unfinished masterpiece
    Suite Francaise sat on my permanent "mountain" of waiting-to-be-read books for about a year, unopened. Had I only known...

    The Holocaust claimed the lives of innumerable people. Irene Nemirovsky was among them. She died at Auschwitz a year after writing the first two novels (out of intended five) belonging to Suite Francaise. "Storm in June" and "Dolce" were re-discovered decades after she died and subsequently published, adding a further and unusual insight to the tragedy of war. The world lost a very talented writer, already successful and well known at the time of her death.

    I think it is important however to discern the actual BOOK from the extraordinary CIRCUMSTANCES surrounding its discovery and the personal history of its author, as it would have been, in my opinion, a great literary success regardless. No doubt this is easier said than done, especially after turning the last page having read not only the book but all the following appendixes, which clarify the author's frame of mind and personal turmoil at the time of writing, as well as several points about the manuscripts that were still pending and awaiting a definite closure, a task possible only after the end of WW2, primary background of the entirety of Suite Francaise.

    Having said this, the book itself is a standout. The first novel, "Storm in June" recounts the exodus from the city of Paris due to the advancing Nazi invasion. Different characters from different backgrounds feel Paris is not safe any longer and decide to leave everything behind and flee, seeking refuge in the French countryside. Coming to terms with the lurking spectre of war generates the most varied reactions and perturbates minds and souls, revealing the true nature of each individual.
    A few characters mentioned in "Storm in June" reappear, but only just, in the following novel, "Dolce" (and that's because some connections were meant to be further developed in the never-written but intended sequels). Set in a small town in the French countryside, the Germans have already arrived and impose their rules and regulations to the locals, often occupying their homes for accommodation. Everyone is bitter, resentful and scared about the imposed presence of the Nazis, from the farmers to the lords of the manor so to speak. As in the first novel, the true nature of each character reveals itself in this time of need, fear and confusion.

    What the two novels have in common is the wonderful characterization. It is clear that the author wanted to project people and their feelings most of all. No matter how rich, poor, famous, noble, sweet or arrogant, no matter their different backgrounds, they all have one thing in common: fear. And one target: survival. For themselves and their loved ones. The momentous events reveal the true nature of the characters involved and the disruption it causes to their life, merging into a form of cowardice and malignancy for some and humility, courage and hope for others.

    And no, this is not "another one" of those books about war or the Holocaust. It is war felt and lived through by different characters with diverse points of views, and that includes the German soldiers, depicted especially in "Dolce". Definitely a different perspective, and an original one, of WW2.

    Original language hues are sometimes lost in translation, I cannot know if this was the case, however the narrative here is captivating and has an erudite quality which speaks for itself; it is in any case extremely accessible and easily readable. Sad of course, although funny remarks are included too, sparsely distilled here and there befitting certain situations. Even the least important character -just like settings and surroundings- is etched vividly reflecting the multifaceted reality of war times. If this book was not brought to an end and feels a bit disjointed, it is not something that spoils the reading. Its essence is pristine and the message conveyed a tug at the heart. Need I say more? I loved it.

    ...more info
  • Suite Francaise
    The style of writting is so unique, so individual. Not your common style of writting. & the story so convincing too.
    At the end, reading the author's notes also made it all so real too. I really felt for her...more info
  • Wanted more and more!! .such a tragedy she is gone...
    A book like this only comes around once in a while and touched me greatly and even though the author died tragically at Auschwitz in 1942 she will be in my memory forever.. Thank god her daughter got this book published. I fell in love with all the characters who were written so vividly I thought I was there...So descriptive, with both humor and sadness. The next part "Captive" was not yet written only in bits and pieces before her death. I cried on the last two pages regarding her life and death. Such a talented writer. Rest in peace Irene.....more info
  • Simply a Must Read
    To call Irene Nemirovksy's Suite Francaise merely moving would constitute a failure of language. Her work is not only moving, but also haunting, nuanced, and bitter. Considering that Nemirovsky was writing about events in occupied France as they occurred, she is almost supernaturally insightful as to the motivations and feelings of the French and the occupying Boche.

    Suite Francaise cannot be read, experienced really, outside of its context and Nemiorvsky's ultimate fate. Suite Francaise was originally planned to consist of five books, but she had completed (more or less) only two novellas: Storm in June and Dolce. A Jewish Russian immigrant from a well-to-do family, Nemirovsky was an established writer (David Golder, The Ball, Snow in Autumn, The Courilof Affair (Everyman's Library (Cloth))) when the war began and she fled to the countryside with her husband and two young children. In July 1942 she was arrested and vanished into the Nazi vortex. The story of how her books survived the war before being found and published is well told in the preface to the French edition (included at the end of the Vintage International edition). This volume also includes Nemirovsky's notes as well correspondence. Do not put this book down without reading all of this additional material.

    In `Storm in June', Nemirovsky describes Parisians' reactions to the German invasion and focuses primarily on the upper and middle classes with whom she was most familiar. The pictures she paints does very few of the characters much credit. Easy generosity snaps shut once the fleeing realize the extent of their peril. They find that the familiar levers of power no longer function quite so efficiently. Abject fear and growing deprivation reduces nearly everyone to a brutal equality. This commonality proves short-lived as the French army collapses almost immediately and many find their way back to Paris.

    `Dolce' relates life in a French village and the interaction between the inhabitants and the German occupiers. German officers are billeted in the better homes, except for the aristocratic Chateau Montmorts whose owners have reached other accommodations. The story centers on the developing relationship between the German officer Bruno and Lucille Angellier. Nemirovsky deftly explores the conflicting human feelings. In Dolce, Nemirovsky implicitly accepts human needs and emotions sometimes lead to less than ideally honorable conduct.

    Oddly, Jews are the missing piece of Suite Francaise, but Nemirovsky planned to include them in the third book, `Capitivity', which of course was never written due to her own captivity and death in Auschwitz.

    Suite Francaise became a literary phenomenon upon publication in 2006. Remarkably, the book actually exceeds the hyperbole. Highest recommendation.
    ...more info
  • Suite Francaise
    I have only one complaint. I understood there was some underlining in the book, but it was more than some, an awful lot and in ink so it was very disconcerting to read. It came in timely manner, and all else was fine....more info
  • Wonderful storyteller
    Author's descriptions and characterizations are outstanding. She give you a clear image of the events and of personalities, and how people reacted to what was going on in France during the German occupation. Also her notes included at the back of the volume give you a window on her creative process....more info
  • Suite Francaise: A Collage
    Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky blurs well defined categories of genre and presents real life in a creative collage. The unfinished work consists of two novellas and two appendixes. The manuscript had been kept by Nemirovsky's daughter who had refused to read it for years, because her mother had died in Auschwitz, and the daughter didn't want to revisit the painful memories.

    The first novella, "Storm in June," narrates the evacuation from Paris of multiple families fleeing the Germans in 1940. Nemirovsky uses the Olympian eye to see the large picture while combining multiple tales simultaneously. She follows the Pericand family, the Cortez couple, the Michauds and their son Jean-Marie as they pack and prepare to depart for safer climes. Petty preoccupations and emotional ties are explored as each family leaves the city. With the eye of a cinematographer and the insight of a psychologist as Nemirovsky delves into the lives of her characters. Each story deals with life and death decisions superimposed on mundane needs and egocentric vanities.

    The second novella, "Dolce" deals with German occupation in France. Nemirovsky shows war in real time. Not every minute is horrible. Seen primarily through the eyes of the French, the Germans are sometimes perceived as human; and the French are sometimes inhumane. People are people and hatred and combat are not the only experience in wartime.

    Both novellas follow a linear movement toward conflict and death, a straight line toward the unknown. Is this not what life is about, Nemirovsky asks? But she deftly includes another movement. Underneath the linear progress is a comforting cyclical movement, nature's cycles, repetitious twenty-four hour days, the pattern of seasons, the biological mating instinct--all ordinary patterns continuing in spite of war.

    The appendixes consist of the Nemirovsky's notes on her work in progress allowing the reader to get inside the mind of the writer. She asks: "Which of the scenes deserve to be passed on to posterity?" (p.374). She struggles with objectivity: "My idea is for it to unravel like a film, but at times the temptation is great, and I've given in with brief descriptions or in the episode that follows the meeting at the schoolboy giving my own point of view. Should I mercilessly pursue this?" (p. 376).

    Nemirovsky writes while fleeing Paris. All lives are upset; all priorities must be reassessed. Suite Francaise, a Novel stands alone as art without tapping the biography of the author, but once the reader understands circumstances of Nemirovsky's writing, which is that she is writing fiction about events she is experiencing in real time, immediacy and poignancy is added to this work. In Nemirovsky's own story, which is not a part of this novel, she dies in Auschwitz. Her journal entries tell the reader she understands she may die. Her tragic end prevented the completion of the work as she had envisioned it. Reading the uncompleted novellas with the appendixes make the total work a revealing story of Irene Nemirovsky's life told with consciousness that moves the story beyond individual experience to the universal experience of war. Genres merge. Is this fiction, autobiography, memoir, documentary? The collection of texts in this work creates a new genre, a collage, a scrapbook of life. It is real, it is human, and it makes us understand more about the human condition.

    ...more info
  • A fascinating and touching book
    I finished reading "Suite Francaise", a thoroughly absorbing book. How I would like to write like Neimerovsky! Usually I want to plow through description and flowery words and get to the plot. I think that is the male way. In this book, however, the descriptions are more than dressing; they are part of the meaning and must be read. They also add to the beauty of the prose and take you to the far away place the author wants you to go. Once there, she allows the plot and dialogue to flow. The dialogue is sparse, but even so great meaning is extracted from the characters.

    Our civilization is built upon such flimsy foundations. The beauty we revere in art and happiness from possessions are jettisoned once one is hungry and without shelter. Our motives become baser as our survival needs go unmet. Those who want the least, like the priest, tend to be the happiest and can make do. As civilization crumbles, we learn that skills as a poet, banker, or artist become worthless. The man that can grow food, raise horses fares better. Women live by their wits, using looks to survive; an age old option justified for self preservation.

    In "Suite", security is paramount. It's once one takes for granted or is completely secure in his basic needs can he move on to gratifying other wants: love, ambition, material possessions.

    The most despicable people in the novel are those who feel entitled to their perch and do not realize that they are flabby pink shallow beasts surviving on a largesse they did not earn. These people inherited their wealth or gained it in endeavours that mean little in the new world of occupation.

    The saddest characters are those that have passion, but no one to love. Lucille and Bruno, you really feel for them....more info
  • Some Tolstoy, A Bit Of Hemingway, A Dab of Soviet Realism, A Whiff of Michener. Ah, what a bore!
    I have to side with the readers who, like me, wanted very much to love this novel, but in the end couldn't bring themselves to finish it. I didn't and won't.

    The book has everything a great story needs, except for one thing: a likable main character. I found myself waiting in vain for one to appear. And the grab-bag of characters that one does encounter, and there are very, very many of these, are dealt with by a kind of journalistic detachment. It is as though one is reading a war correspondent's notebooks about another of our era's all too frequent human tragedies, yet despite the fine attention to detail, to color, to smells, to social status, to lives upended, one simply does not care what happens. Or at least I didn't.

    And, lets face it, this is an oft-told tale. What more can be said about WW2 that hasn't already been published a thousand times over? I know how the story ends. The Jews are slaughtered, the Germans get what's coming to them, and the French ride back triumphantly into Paris on the back of Eisenhower's tanks.

    I agree with another reviewer that it is the life story of the author that really fires my curiosity. She was a brilliant writer. She was young. She was still developing her writing style. Her career was cut short by insane ideas of race. Just think of what she might have written about Auschwitz had she lived? I find myself in agonies contemplating what such a sensitive soul had to endure in that soulless hell. What must she have thought when she realized what her fate was to be? Now, that is the story that needs to be written. That's the lost manuscript I want to read....more info