This is the book by which the Russo-French author is now best remembered following the successful adaptation of the second story in it into a film. It is of course actually three stories in one book, dealing with aspects of French life in World War 2. The first story (Tempête en juin) is the longest story, the second (Dolce) is the one made into a film, and the third story (Captivité) is unfinished. For anyone unaware of Irène Némirovsky's fate, she was a Jew transported to Auschwitz by the Nazis before this, her final work, was completed. It only resurfaced many years after the war and was published to richly-deserved acclaim. Although Némirovsky was an acclaimed writer of the inter-war years, I'm ashamed to say I had never heard of her until Suite française won the Prix Renaudot. The book is rewarding and moving, specially in light of what happened to the author, and the French is simple and classic. I subsequently dipped into her earlier work and I will post a review when I get time.
Intimate details of French families packing up their lives to escape Paris as the Germans move in during the second world war. The wealthy pack their jewels, their bed linen and a moaning granddad. The less wealthy set off on foot with just a suitcase. No one knows where the end is or the outcome but all are hit by the shortage of beds, food and petrol. Class divides evaporate as everyone becomes human beings helpless and morose.
For an English reader, this is beautiful French. The language is full of colour, and enriches the scenes and characters that make this book a real pleasure to read. It provides much food for thought for any English reader, where WW2 was black and white, as we were not under occupation