Monday, July 16, 2007
Book Review: Suite Francaise
Suite Francaise, by Irene Nemirovsky details life in France as the Germans march in during WWII and what the occupation was like. There's one problem, it's the first draft of the first half of an unfinished novel.
It was never finished because the author (a Russian-born French writer) was Jewish and was transported to Auchwitz where she was killed. Given that tragic story, I feel guilty and petty for criticising this book but I didn't like it. My reason is just what I said -- it's a first draft of the first half of an unfinished novel.
The first part focuses on a group of Parisiens leaving the city before the Germans arrive. In short, it's a group of unpleasant people doing unpleasant things during unpleasant circumstances. Critics have hailed it as a biting satire, but I just found it unenjoyable. I liked the second half better -- set in farming country where the residents learn to deal with having German troops living in their homes. The characters were more likeable, the story focused more on people an less on what everyone chooses to pack while fleeing a war (what is that obsession with linens?), and it was a more polished work.
My short review is that this work has promise, and had the author been allowed to finish it I believe it could have been truly important. But were it not for her tragic end, would thid have deserved to be published?