Sunday, August 3, 2008

Suite Francaise DQs

She does this with a heightened understanding of human behavior and an instinctively literary mind that utilizes some techniques and methods that will be used only years after she is gone.
I wonder what these techniques and methods are...would it be the telling of the same story from so many different points of view? We read stories that are written this way so often now. Perhaps this technique was not used at the time this novel was written.

Has Némirovsky presented a fair picture? The story does portray the Parisians as selfish and only concerned with their own well being and wealth. Is this fair? Perhaps this is the way they were!

Has she written a journalistic account of the time or a story of fiction? It reads to me as a story of fiction written in a journalistic style. We recently read The Devil in White City which was a non-fiction story written in a fictional style.

How have her own personal experiences biased her writing? Is this novel a contribution to the library of wartime literature? It certainly is a strong condemnation of the self absorbed attitudes of the wealthy people of Paris.

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 would say that this is a tragically classic historical fiction glimpse of the lives of a few self absorbed wealthy people of Paris.


Zorro said...

I am not sure whether we decided to post our comments and answers as 'comments' or as 'posts'. Anyway, I want to say that the characters are certainly a self absorbed bunch of wealthy to upper middle class snobs. Has there been any true kindness shown by any of them? Is this the 'survival' mode of just these few, or were the French people as a whole this selfish. Usually we hear of the little kindnesses that folks do for one another in a disaster. We aren't seeing much of this here.
Now for this to be a discussion, I need a response to my questions. It seems that usually at Book Buddies we post independently of one another without responding and discussion.

Were there any kindnesses shown to each other and I missed them?

Ellen D. said...

The only kindness that comes to mind is the Pericands when they start passing out chocolate, etc...then Mrs. Pericand realizes that despite having plenty of money there is nothing to buy! Her charity dries up at that point.

There was the transport driver that went out of his way to drop the soldier at a house to die more comfortably than in a truck.

Zorro said...

Yes, Ellen, I forgot about the chocolates...Ms. P was a 'formulaic' Catholic, wasn't she. She went through all the correct motions, but 'had not love' so she was a 'clanging cymbal' or symbol! (Ephesians)

Bonnie Jacobs said...

MaryZorro, I love that you see her as a mere symbol/cymbal. What fun with the words!

Thanks for picking up on that vivid image of "clanging cymbal" for us. It's from the "love chapter" of First Corinthians:

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. ... If I give away all I have ... but have not love, I gain nothing." (I Cor. 13: 1, 3)

Mrs. Péricand certainly wasn't willing to give away "all that she had," was she?

BTW, I think we could have a better conversation if everybuddy would POST answers, using COMMENTS if it's a short responses. Therefore, I'll POST this, too.

Elizabeth Sinnreich said...

I recently read your post about Irène Némirovsky and wanted to let you know about an exciting new exhibition about her life, work, and legacy that will open on September 24, 2008 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage —A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York City. Woman of Letters: Irène Némirovsky and Suite Française, which will run through the middle of March, will include powerful rare artifacts — the actual handwritten manuscript for Suite Française, the valise in which it was found, and many personal papers and family photos. The majority of these documents and artifacts have never been outside of France. For fans of her work, this exhibition is an opportunity to really “get to know” Irene. And for those who can’t visit, there will be a special website that will live on the Museum’s site
The Museum will host several public programs over the course of the exhibition’s run that will put Némirovsky’s work and life into historical and literary context. Book clubs and groups are invited to the Museum for tours and discussions in the exhibition’s adjacent Salon (by appointment). It is the Museum’s hope that the exhibit will engage visitors and promote dialogue about this extraordinary writer and the complex time in which she lived and died. To book a group tour, please contact Tracy Bradshaw at 646.437.4304 or Please visit our website at for up-to-date information about upcoming public programs or to join our e-bulletin list.
Thanks for sharing this info with your readers. Let me know if you need any more.
-Elizabeth Sinnreich (