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.