74 of 79 people found the following review helpful
A masterpiece, a must- read for the present about the past,
This review is from: Suite Francaise (Hardcover)
I think this is a wonderful book, so moving and beautifully written that you realize after only a few pages, that you are reading a timeless classic, something that will endure for ever in the same way as the great works of Tolstoy or Flaubert. Actually the author has all the lyricism of Tolstoy - and the breadth of vision - but doesn't hammer on about her 'message' as he can do. Think of those passages in Anna Karenina where the great man begins to describe Levin and the ideal life in the country. There is none of this in Suite Francaise. And the wonder of it is that you don't realize the author was Jew living life on borrowed time , exiled to the French countryside and with the full knowledge of what this invasion meant for her personally and her family. There is no fear in the book. It is essentially and creatively feminine. That Irene N. was about to be taken and killed , that she was a Jew in the middle of a European abomination , that never intrudes. You don't read the book for what the author suffered, despite her knowledge of her own personal perilous position, she just lets her art take over so what we get is a timeless brilliant classic which is so much more of an amazing legacy to her and those who died than any personalized or angled account could ever have been. What real heroism to do this, what an achievement, to rise about the fear and humiliation and write this wonderful work. And the translation is fantastic just because we don't notice it specially. Sandra Smith ( translators like editors are surely born to live in the shadows ) has done a fabulous job in not making the book seem at all foreign. There are no jarring phrases and odd distracting foreignisms that often get in the way of really enjoying a great work like this . Of course we are reading Irene Nemirovsky but every word on the page is Smith's and they are all beautifully chosen to match the lyricism of the original.
This is one of the most important books to emerge for years and, it sounds rather plangent but a triumph of life and art over he forces of death and ignorance.