Tag Archives: Irene Nemirovsky

Bought, Read

Irene Nemirovsky is one of my favorite authors. I like the way she manages to pin down the perceptions of specific individuals within the realm of certain time periods.

Her magnificent and masterful novel, Suite Francaise, is one such novel in which the ravages of war and the frantic desires to survive are illuminated, with every minute detail imagineable.

I have read all of her works that have been translated into English. I am the happy owner of The Fires of Autumn, the latest of her novels that have been translated!

I am sure this book will not disappoint me, as none of her others have.
~~~

I finished reading The Birds of Pandemonium, Oh my! So many birds, so little time. I absolutely loved this book, and will be reviewing it shortly.

I also finished The List: A Novel, by Martin Fletcher.

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Review: Fire in the Blood

Fire in the Blood, by Irene Nemirovsky, translated from the French by Sandra Smith, is an illuminating work in many aspects, in my opinion.

It was an autumn evening, the whole sky red above the sodden fields of turned earth.” So begins the second sentence of the first page, setting the languid tone for the rest of the book. The novel doesn’t have a sense of extreme urgency, and I attribute this to the fact that Nemirovsky was mindful and extremely aware, in her writing about country life.  The book vividly evokes the preoccupation that the narrator, Silvio, has with the memories of his past.

Silvio, in his middle age, likes nothing more than to sit at home in the evening by the fire, sipping wine and daydreaming of days gone by.  He has a passion (his own unique “fire“) for writing in his journal about the past and the lives of others, a passion born through his youthful travels and romances.  He seems content, until circumstances cause a spark, and his “fire” begins to flare up.

What is apparent to Silvio, is not necessarily apparent to those who reside in the seemingly idyllic countryside.  The cold and often frigid personalities, are seemingly uncaring, wrapped up in their own lives, yet vividly aware of every happening within the confines of their world, each incident passed down through the generations.  Silvio is almost like a bystander, as if he is watching the lives of three women from behind a curtain. Nemirovsky brings us a story line with three distinct women seeking peace, happiness and love.  How their lives intertwine, and how their love and betrayals interweave is told brilliantly by Nemirovsky, through word imagery that heightens our senses, bringing us flashes of country scents, food for the soul, time and place, in the countryside of France.

The old cliche that “blood is thicker than water“, holds true regarding the adult children in this novel.  They display the same “fire in the blood“, the same passion as their mother did.  The “fire” has been passed down from one generation to the next, ignited and blazing full force, slowly turning into burning embers on a pyre, in the flicker of time, until the last remnants of ash turn to darkness.

Nemirovsky was extremely cognizant of the culture and mores of the era pre-World War I.  Her novel is a brilliantly told story, and a sentient reflection on country life, the light and eventual darkness, the fire and the eventual defusing of the embers.

Until recently only a partial text of Fire in the Blood was thought to exist, typed up by Irene Nemirovsky’s husband, Michel Epstein, to whom she often passed her manuscripts for this purpose. Two additional pages were found to have been in the suitcase that Nemirovsky’s daughter, Denise Epstein, carried with her.”  More pages were later found, and you can read about that in the “Note on the Text“, in the front of the book.  You will also want to read the “Preface to the French Addition” in the back of the book.

Irene Nemirovsky died at Auschwitz, and her death is listed as Typhus, but recent documents suggest otherwise.

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Book Diva News-July 14, 2013

Irene Nemirovsky’s books speak to me on several levels. Each one is unique, yet similar, as she delved into community, family dynamics, society and culture, the working class and the wealthy, and the ravages of war.

I own several of her books, and look for others to eventually become published in English. When one does I buy it.

Here is a list of the books of hers that I own:

Fire in the Blood

Suite Francaise


The Wine of Solitude

All Our Worldly Goods

David Golder, The Ball, Snow in Autumn, The Courilof Affair


Dimanche and Other Stories


Dogs & the Wolves

The Misunderstanding, her first novel, will be published in August.

Other Book News Not Pertaining to Irene Nemirovsky – New Releases or To-Be-Released:

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells

Italian Ways

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

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Book Diva Book Review: Suite Francaise

suite francaise Within the pages of Suite Francaise, Irene Nemirovsky has given us a compelling masterpiece, written with insight into the human condition, social classes, mores, individual values and ethics, that take place during the occupation of France beginning in 1940.

In “Storm in June” we are given characters who flee Paris city life and comforts, for what they believe is the safer countryside. In reality it is a frantic situation, as city refugees try to cope with chaos, and country farmers and peasants try to cope with the frenzy thrust upon them. Included in this chaos are characters whose lives intertwine and connect. We are given the scope of their souls during this time of extreme turmoil. The upper class and the lower class, all come together, within the same situational confines, and we see who is really made of character, strength and stoicism, and who can weather the storm.

From a well-respected upper class family, to an author, to a priest, to an unmarried man whose life revolves around his porcelain collection, to the lower-class and loveable couple, we are given insight into the inner minds and inner core of these individuals. We see the meaning of what is essential and important in life, revealed through these characters, whether it be material things, children, family members, or a simple photograph. Her assessment of humanity and social structure and attitude is nothing short of incredible, amazing, and filled with intensity, clarity and first-hand knowledge.

In “Dolce”, there is a continuation of some of the characters from “Storm in June”, and there are some new characters, set in a farming village in the countryside. This novella is filled with humor and poignancy, as we watch peasants, farmers and Germans inhabit the same village, and how they manage to exist together within the confines of German Officers have been billeted into homes. We see how daily life continues, despite the inconveniences of the occupation. Peasant women seem to like the attention, although they are afraid to show it out of fear for reaction from their peers, a married woman debates within her mind whether the German Officer billetted in her house is a decent individual in his own country. Love beckons and is born, within the village borders.

Each side surviving as best as they can, and even trying to understand each other. Life’s daily drama is enhanced by the intensity, drama and depth of character (or lack of, in some cases) that Nemirovsky has brought to Suite Francaise.

Nemirovsky
is compared to Proust and Tolstoy, and several other classic authors, but for me, Irene Nemirovsky is beyond compare, with her compelling and intense writing, her descriptions flowing from one word to another, into sentences, creating two extremely realized novellas. She was a master at assessing individuals, and their stature in the scheme of difficult situations. She wrote about the time period, while experiencing the ramifications of those horrid days during the German invasion. That she was able to complete what she did, is an incredible testament to her own strength, and her extraordinary capability, and her need to show what life was like in the face of adversity. She was a witness to the historical events she wrote about.

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Irene Nemirovsky Upcoming Exhibit

There is an upcoming exhibit beginning September 24, 2008, at The Museum of Jewish Heritage, that I am interested in seeing.  I will try to make it to NYC in order to see, it, but if not, there will be an online virtual exhibit.  The exhibit is entitled Woman of Letters:  Irene Nemirovsky.

The exhibit looks to be exciting, informative and a wonderful tribute to Irene Nemirovsky.

~~Book Diva

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Fire in the Blood, by Irene Nemirovsky

I was roaming through a book store a while ago, and I saw a the novel Fire in the Blood, the author Irene Nemirovsky, translated from the French by Sandra Smith. I quickly grabbed a copy, without even reading the inside jacket cover. I wanted the book, no matter what. I had been hoping that there would be another novel from her.

Nemirovsky authored the book Suite Francaise (actually two sections of a planned four-five-section novel). She never finished the book in its entirety, and therefore, Suite Francaise reads like two novellas.  For those who critique her work as not sounding complete, there is a reason for that…she died at Auschwitz at 39 yaers of age, before she was able to complete Suite Francaise (it was a work in progress), yet she kept writing until she was sent to Auschwitz, up until they came to her home, and knocked on her door. How many would do so?

What hits home for me, what strikes my inner core, is the fact that Nemirovsky wrote this book (along with Suite Francaise) just before she died (typhus is the claimed reason for her death) at Auschwitz. That she kept writing under the stressful and horrendous circumstances of knowing her life was about to end, speaks volumes.

I am certain will be another excellent read from Nemirovsky. Some books take preference over others, and the others can wait an extra day. I will let you know my thoughts when I am finished.

~~Book Diva

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