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Publisher's Summary

By the early 1940s, when Ukrainian-born Irène Némirovsky began working on what would become Suite Française - the first two parts of a planned five-part novel - she was already a highly successful writer living in Paris. But she was also a Jew, and in 1942 she was arrested and deported to Auschwitz: a month later she was dead at the age of 39. Two years earlier, living in a small village in central France - where she, her husband, and their two small daughters had fled in a vain attempt to elude the Nazis - she'd begun her novel, a luminous portrayal of a human drama in which she herself would become a victim. When she was arrested, she had completed two parts of the epic, the handwritten manuscripts of which were hidden in a suitcase that her daughters would take with them into hiding and eventually into freedom. Sixty-four years later, at long last, we can read and hear Némirovsky's literary masterpiece.

The first part, "A Storm in June," opens in the chaos of the massive 1940 exodus from Paris on the eve of the Nazi invasion, during which several families and individuals are thrown together under circumstances beyond their control. They share nothing but the harsh demands of survival, but soon, all together, they will be forced to face the awful exigencies of physical and emotional displacement, and the annihilation of the world they know. In the second part, "Dolce," we enter the increasingly complex life of a German-occupied provincial village. Coexisting uneasily with the soldiers billeted among them, the villagers cope as best they can. Some choose resistance, others collaboration, and as their community is transformed by these acts, their lives reveal nothing less than the very essence of humanity.

Suite Française is a singularly piercing evocation - at once subtle and severe, deeply compassionate and fiercely ironic - of life and death in occupied France, and a brilliant, profoundly moving work of art.

©2006 Irene Nemirovsky (P)2013 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Extraordinary.... A work of Proustian scope and delicacy, by turns funny and deeply moving, that captures a civilization in its most revealing moment: that of its undoing." ( Time)
"What is so remarkable about Suite Française, apart from its artistic merit, is that it survived at all and has, at last, become available for us to read.... [It] is an extraordinary work, an astonishing blend of fiction and fact, history and storytelling." ( Houston Chronicle)
"A tour de force of narrative distillation, using a handful of people to represent a multitude. Némirovsky’s shifts in tone and pace... are mesmerizing.... She wrote what may be the first work of fiction about what we now call World War II. She also wrote, for all to read at last, some of the greatest, most humane and inclusive fiction that conflict has produced." ( The New York Times Book Review)

What listeners say about Suite Francaise

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One word: Epic

This book exceeded all expectations. You will not be disappointed with this title. Everyone should experience this book for a multitude of reasons. This is one of the best books I have ever encountered.

9 people found this helpful

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suite francaise

very good book. a really good book about about a dark time in human history.

4 people found this helpful

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Exquisite writing!

The best book I have ever read about the French experience in the early days of World War II. Beautifully written.

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Breathtaking prose

Inspiring story of respect in adverse circumstances. We are inclined to repudiate enemies, but maybe by erasing the enemies lines we could find, with time and effort, a place of mutual understanding, and just maybe we could transport into this place a new human experience.

3 people found this helpful

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great listen

This was a very intricately woven drama. The narrators were excellent. What a shame that Nemirovsky didn't live to finish it -- we are left to eternally wonder what happens to these characters next.

3 people found this helpful

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A fragment of a story

If I had known this was the first of what was intended to be a 5 book series of which only 2 were completed, I would not have invested 13 hours in listening to it. I kept hoping it would come to some kind of conclusion. The writing was at times beautiful and evocative and other times overly detailed. Why so much devoted to a cat killing and eating a bird. Many of the characters were unbelievably self centered and arrogant, so few with any redeeming features. In the end, I didn’t like any of them. Not a kind portrayal of the French. I ordinarily only write reviews when I really like a book, but I couldn’t let this one slip by without a word of comment.

1 person found this helpful

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Beautiful

Irene Nemirovsky wrote these two closely observed novels about the chaos which was the evacuation of Paris before the Nazi occupation of the city and about the German occupation of a small French village. I say closely observed because she includes a multitude of small details which really allow one to enter the smells and sights of France 80 years ago. Her portrayal of the people and the gardens, the roadsides and the rooms, the scent of lime flowers as the German soldiers march out of the village, the strawberries as they enter the village, they are all true to life and bring the reader directly into Paris, the roadsides along the evacuation, and the village. Her observations of human nature are timeless. Her sympathetic portrayal of the occupying German soldiers is all the more poignant and moving as her death in a German concentration camp before she could complete the last three books planned in her suite hangs in the background of one’s reading of this book. The narration of both books is fantastic.

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Really just couldn't get into it

I thought the book was almost over and looked and saw I was only halfway through and gave up. Just wasn't interesting enough for me.

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Reader ruins it

The gentleman reading the story so far has no clue how to pronounce French. Unfortunately, this being a French book, all the names of people and places are French. The narrator has a notion that final consonants should be dropped, so Jeanne and Jean are pronounced the same, “zhon”. Also, Monsieur becomes misha and Madame rhymes with can-can, and Auguste is OH-goost. Hearing the text mangled this way is painful.

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there are no words..

Irène Némirovsky left the world a treasure before her life was cut tragically short. Her words and story telling took me away to another time, so descriptive in the lives of various characters and their views and struggles from different perspectives in society. The short chapter featuring Albert the Cat in Strom in June was wonderful and left me to consider many things, the main focus being how often did Irène herself observe the behavior of a family cat? and during the war what behavior had she observed from those around here during a time when not much was there to do but wait for others/fate to decide the future of you and your entire country.. even though this is her incomplete work I am left in amazement, left wanting more but also profound sadness because had she not been murdered in Auschwitz she would have most definitely completed her story wholly as she originally intended. Perhaps we would have come to know her complete invision of character development and conclusion. what beautiful work during a time when it seemed all was lost.