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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 November 2016
This is a Frankenstein's monster of a book: individual parts are perfectly workable but put together what we have is a disjointed, fragmented, messy entity.

The first half of the book is a set of character studies with almost a journalistic feel as various Parisians flee their city in advance of the German army: there is plenty of acute observation and nice moments of description, not least the scathing exposure of non-comaraderie as Parisian refugees are not always regarded with compassion or succour by their French compatriots. Némirovsky's lack of sentimentality is welcome, and she captures some of the chaos, both emotional and material, as war reaches into Parisian homes.

The second - and better - part, bears little relationship to the first. Now we're in a small French village which is occupied by the German army who are billetted amongst the residents. The links to the first section are minor, and it's like a new book. Again, there are lots of subtle, telling moments but they don't really come together into a coherent story. To Némirovsky's credit, while she offers a nuanced picture of the erotic frisson created when these young, handsome soldiers descend on the village and into the homes of men-less women, she remains acute to the problematics of war and the power differentials involved. While she gestures towards the kind of across-the-tracks love story beloved of romantic novelists, she has a far more mature understanding of the complexities and contradictions of war and disrupts any kind of romanticism.

The ending is abrupt: I literally turned the page expecting to read on and found the book was done. So overall this has so much potential but, given the history of the book, what we have is less than the sum of its parts. As a record of the French Occupation it has much to offer but as a novel it's frustratingly unsatisfying and unresolved.
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on 27 March 2017
So well written it was as if I was actually living through the situations described. Her characters are drawn with great sensitivity and realism. It was very hard to put this book down and I felt so sad that she had been unable to complete the project that she had envisioned. The book, a masterpiece in every way, heightened my awareness of the Russian pogroms and the Holocaust of WWII and the senseless loss of innocent human life. The writer's own tragic history brought into sharp relief the fact that the world was robbed by this butchery of innumerable, wonderful and extremely gifted people.
For the record, I am not Jewish and have no Jewish ancestry, so am not partial in any way.
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on 17 May 2015
I enjoyed the book to a moderate degree, some parts better than other parts. There were a lot of loose ends that were not tied up and some things that I did not know why they were included as they did not move the narrative along. For example the man who arrived back to his apartment and began to unpack his fine China, then he interviewed a woman to help with the cleaning. He immediately left the apartment to meet people for dinner and was knocked down and died. There did not seem to be any point to this.
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on 26 March 2015
This was a good book but I was left feeling there should be more to the story, which of course there should since its two unfinished stories! However the characters were very believable it's well written and enjoyable just left me wanting more which sadly of course the story will not be continued
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on 31 May 2017
I actually found his book hard going,and only really started to get into it near the end, so I will not go to see film.
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on 14 June 2017
An interesting insight into what life could have been like for the women and children left at home when the men were away at war. A nice change from reading about life in England!
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on 13 May 2017
A wonderful book from an author who, although came from Russia, understood the characteristics and behaviours and the mood of the people of France, during WW 2.
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on 19 August 2017
Very disappointing
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on 17 November 2015
This was,an easy book to read. The characters rounded and loveable. A little insight into French attitudes to their war
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on 10 May 2015
Amazing book. Such a sad time it was... May it never happen again! A real eye opening on what was really happening amongst the civilians during the occupation. The best and the worst of the human race.
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