Thursday, August 7, 2008

Suite Francaise Discussion Week 1

Well, I've dedicated this morning to Suite Francaise. Hopefully I've navigated well enough to have read all of the previous discussion and comments! Thank you to those of you who make the time to come up with questions and related links and materials. I know I barely have time to get to the DQ, and your lives are busy too.
I've been listening to the audio book, so my knowledge of detail can be a little fuzzy. I am a much better reader than listener, but sometimes the audio version helps me to feel the tone of a novel better (and also allows me to do laundry, dishes, etc. If I miss a part of the book, it's usually from when I was running the garbage disposal!)

Has Némirovsky presented a fair picture? Has she written a journalistic account of the time or a story of fiction? How have her own personal experiences biased her writing? Is this novel a contribution to the library of wartime literature?

She seems fairly objective for being a contemporary observer, but definitely shows the characters in a harsh light. I wondered if her intent was to show the dark side of Parisians, or human nature in general, and how we respond in a crisis or war. The fact that she is not a native of France (this is true isn't it? How old was she when she came to France?) keeps her from sympathizing the French perspective.

Consider in your reading so far whether or not you consider what Irène Némirovsky has written to be a tragically classic story or if she is merely a tragic figure in her own story.

I am enjoying the writing. I feel kind of like I am watching a documentary and getting detailed glimpses of peoples lives and their reactions to the invasion. I think much more time needs to pass to determine if it is a classic. I think her portrayal of the author Corte is interesting, because he is so distraught that the invasion is not living up to his romantic ideal of war that you would find in a novel. Instead he sees the cold truth of it (also lacking in his luxuries). I wondered if she felt the same way, or if she knew the reality of war, and was criticizing authors who idealized it.

a. Do you find yourself identifying with any of the actions or behaviors of these main payers in the beginning of the first raid and initial invasion of Paris?

The part where some mothers were just throwing their babies down and running away as they were being bombed just made me reflect that you sometimes don't know how you will react to certain situations. What happens when that survival instinct kicks into gear? Like when starving people turn to cannibalism? Can we predict what we ourselves would do? Of course the thought of abandoning my baby to a bomb is mortifying. But I remember one time my 2 year old had gotten onto the kitchen counter, and I could see that she was going to do a head dive down to the kitchen floor. I completely froze. I could not move a muscle to stop her, and there would have been time. She had a big goose egg for a while, but all I could think of was how useless I was and what if it was something more life-threatening--like one of my children getting hit by a car. Would I be able to run out and save them, or would I freeze?

I related to Phillipe a little bit, the way he kept trying to feel love for the boys, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. He underestimates their evil natures, and cynical as I may be at times, it is still hard for me to grasp the amount and level of cruelty in the world.


Bonnie Jacobs said...

Shelley said, "Hopefully I've navigated well enough to have read all of the previous discussion and comments!"

Everybuddy listen up!

If you want to read ALL of the discussion about this book, click on the sidebar link under Suite Francaise that says, "What we said about the book." That will bring up EVERY post that has been labeled "SF," which stands for "Suite Francaise."

I have been a stickler about the labels, so "SF" (or the initials for one of the other books) is put on every post that concerns that book.

"SF-DQ" is not interchangeable with "SF" because adding the DQ means it's a post that contains the DQs or discussion questions. Whenever DQ is added to the initials of of book, it means "here are some questions to get the discussion started."

If you are looking for the discussion questions for this book (those that we have so far), click on "Week 1 ~ Storm in June, Ch 1-20" in the sidebar. That takes you to those questions Marylyn has come up with. If you look at the bottom of that post, you'll see it is labeled both "SF" (because it's about this particular book) and "SF-DQ" (because it has some questions about this particular book).

Look at the "labels" below any post on this blog and you will see these things:
(1) the name of the person who posted it; and
(2) initials of the book under discussion ... OR ... the letters "OT" to indicate the post is "Off Topic.

You will ONLY see SF-DQ if one of us is sharing QUESTIONS about a book. (Yes, I've done extensive revisions of the labels you have used. Otherwise, this blog would be useless.)

One other thing:

If you are looking at any post and want to know more about that book, click on the label to get there:
(1) Click "SF" to see all posts about "Suite Francaise."
(2) Click "SF-DQ" (if somebuddy has posted questions for everybuddy to answer) to see all posts that have questions to be answered for "Suite Francaise."

Along the same lines, if you click on a name among the labels, everything posted by that person will come up for you to read.

Chain Reader said...

I did the sidebar thing--"What we said about the book." Thumbs up!
But I put SF-DQ, which I think I have done before. Thumbs down!

I will try, try, try to get it next time. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can . . .