Wendy said, "Set in France during the Nazi invasion, Suite Francaise was left unfinished by its famous author Irene Nemirovsky. When the manuscript was discovered, it was published along with Nemirovsky's detailed notes for the novel which was to be an epic of more than 1000 pages. A touching and important part of history, it is a good read for France. My review is here.
Suite Francaise is an extraordinary novel of life under Nazi occupation -- recently discovered and published 64 years after the author's death in Auschwitz. In the early 1940s, Irène Némirovsky was a successful writer living in Paris. But she was also Jewish, and in 1942 she was arrested and deported to Auschwitz. Her two small daughters, aged 5 and 13, escaped, carrying with them, in a small suitcase, the manuscript -- one of the great first-hand fictional accounts of a way of life unraveling.
Part One, "A Storm in June," is set in the chaos of the tumultuous exodus from Paris on the eve of the Nazi invasion. As the German army approaches, Parisians seize what belongings they can and flee the city, the wealthy and the poor alike searching for means to escape. Thrown together under circumstances beyond their control, a group of families and individuals with nothing in common but the harsh demands of survival find themselves facing the annihilation of their world, and human nature is revealed for what it is -- sometimes tender, sometimes terrifying.
Part Two, "Dolce," is set in a German-occupied village near Paris, where, riven by jealousy and resentment, resistance and collaboration, the lives of the townspeople reveal nothing less than the essence of the French identity. The delicate, secret love affair between a German soldier and the French woman in whose house he has been billeted plays out dangerously against the background of Occupation.