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Jezebel [Paperback]

Irene Nemirovsky , Sandra Smith
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
RRP: Ł8.99
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Book Description

1 July 2010
In a French courtroom, the trial of a woman is taking place. Gladys Eysenach is no longer young, but she is still beautiful, elegant, cold. She is accused of shooting dead her much-younger lover. As the witnesses take the stand and the case unfolds, Gladys relives fragments of her past: her childhood, her absent father, her marriage, her turbulent relationship with her daughter, her decline, and then the final irrevocable act. With the depth of insight and pitiless compassion we have come to expect from the author of Suite Française, Irène Némirovsky shows us the soul of a desperate woman obsessed with her lost youth.

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Jezebel + David Golder + The Wine of Solitude
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (1 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099520389
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099520382
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 189,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Irène Némirovsky is the literary discovery of the decade" (Sunday Times)

"Slender, but engrossing, novel... Némirovsky's subtle twist and typically jewelled prose presents the glittering enormity of Gladys, an unsympathetic but vividly realised character who dominates this tale in a fascinating portrait of paranoid self-absorption" (Financial Times)

"Nemirovsky's tale of a woman on trial for shooting her young lover rings more contemporary bells than we might think at first" (Lesley McDowell The Independent on Sunday)

"Fast-paced and highly dramatic, it offers a fascinating glimpse into an inter-war world of privilege, wealth and Darwinian social combat" (Simon Shaw New Statesman)

Book Description

A dramatic tale of murder and passion in 1930s France from the author of David Golder and Suite Française.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tour De Force 7 July 2010
Once again Vintage are giving us a treat with another great tale form the late Irene Nemirovsky. Nemirovsky had the great talent of getting under the skin of her main characters, and to a certain extent ours.

To be honest I couldn't put this book down, it immediately captivated and held me from the very beginning and is sure to be a success. Our story opens with Gladys Eysenach on trial for the murder of her younger lover. With the trial concluded we are then taken on a trip back into different periods of time, where we learn more about Gladys, what she was like and how vain she is. With the current plethora of adverts offering men as well as women the chance to stay looking 'young' this book is very modern and will bound to be on many a reading groups list. Gladys herself just wants to be loved as an attractive woman and can't abide aging and losing her looks, but in her case she is prepared to go to extreme measures to keep hidden her real age. As the story progresses you go from feeling sorry for Gladys, to eventually reviling her, as more and more becomes apparent about her vanity and selfishness, and why she really committed murder. Sandra Smith who translated this is also provides a short introduction where you can see that this book in some ways mirrors Irene Nemirovsky's relationship with her own mother.

All in all this is a fantastic book that you will be bound to come back to time and time again.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Simon Savidge Reads TOP 500 REVIEWER
Opening any book to a court scene is enough to have me itching to pop a book down, I don't tend to get on with courtroom dramas. `Jezebel' by Irène Némirovsky starts in such a very place however rather than draw the whole drama out and devote a chapter to a witness the whole event is done in 40 pages with witnesses and intrigue page upon page. Why are we in court? Well Irène Némirovsky's protagonist of `Jezebel', the elegant and beautiful Gladys Eysenach, is on trial for the murder of a much younger man.

I'm not going to tell you whether Gladys is guilty or not, despite the fact that you actually find out her plea and indeed her verdict within the first few pages, because it might still take something away from the book. I was slightly baffled that you knew so much so early on, only Irène Némirovsky has great plans for the reader, you much first see where we find Gladys and then you must go on the journey from her childhood and through society, marriages, liaisons and tragedy (the book has an intense charge throughout) to get to the event that found her in this courtroom. It is through this that Irène Némirovsky creates a tale about a woman obsessed with the days of her youth and how as time goes by age creeps upon her and for someone like Gladys Eysenach this is the cruellest thing imaginable.

What is sometimes wonderful about going to a book that sounds intriguing and yet you have low expectations of (especially if you didn't like the first book you read of theirs) is that when you then really enjoy it it's almost all the more enjoyable. This was the case for me with `Jezebel'. I read it in two sittings and the mixture of the murder and how I was sure it couldn't just be as clear a crime as Irène Némirovsky originally makes it look and the tale of a woman's rise through beauty and old ages betrayal of that was a fascinating read and one that I would highly recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Tale of Obsession and Desperation 31 Mar 2012
Irene Nemirovsky's novel 'Jezebel' is the tale of Gladys Eysenach, a beautiful, but ageing woman, whose beauty is fading and with it, her power over men. Gladys, who is obsessed with trying to re-create her lost youth, is on trial for the murder of a man - a much younger man, who is purported to be her lover. As the murder trial progresses and as witnesses take the stand, the reader begins to learn about Gladys' rather chequered past, but it is once the trial is over and the verdict is given that we discover the surprising events that led to the killing of the young man.

This is an engrossing story, but is quite a short one, so I shall be careful not to reveal too much and spoil the story for prospective readers. However, I will say that the beautiful Gladys is not a character that naturally evokes the reader's admiration or sympathy for she is totally self-obsessed: "Everyone who looked at her confirmed her beauty, her power. So many men had been in love with her. 'That was all I cared about' she thought. 'All I ever really loved was their desire, their submission, their madness, my power and my pleasure..." and with lines such as these, it seems clear that Nemirovsky did not intend the reader to be filled with sympathy for her character.

It's believed that Nemirovsky used the difficult relationship between herself and her own mother as a basis for this story (as she also did in the excellent recently republished The Wine of Solitude) and, if this is true, it partly explains why her writing is so convincing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mother/daughter relationships 17 Oct 2010
By ElenaJ
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this very much, the writing style is lovely, although I read the English translation and not the original French. It did however start to get repetitive in certain parts towards the end, but I would recommend it. It takes place in an age which no longer exists but it is also an evaluation on the relationship between mothers and daughters.
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