Suite Francaise is an account of France during the Second World War, written by Irene Nemirovsky. It is truly incredible that we even have the opportunity to read this book. Irene Nemirovsky was of Jewish descent and was deported to Auschwitz in 1942. She died there a couple of months after her arrival. Her husband spent several months trying to locate her and get her back, not understanding what deportation meant in the Nazi-occupied world. He drew too much attention to himself and was also deported to and died in Auschwitz, not long after his wife. Their two daughters were hidden by friends of the family for the remainder of the war - they were often moved from place to place and it is very fortunate for use that they took their mother's manuscripts with them every time, as something to remember their mother by.
We should be thankful, as Suite Francaise is a beautiful book. Nemirovsky completed two parts of the book, the rest only exists as notes and outlines. The first part is about Parisians fleeing the city before the Nazi invasion. The second is about a small French village under German occupation.
In both, the characters are vivid and real. They are central, as the book is definitely about the human side of war. About the rich trying to save their porcelain rather than helping other people, about trying to survive any way you can, about normal human feelings of loss and anger and love.
In the second part especially, this human aspect shines through as the French people in a small village try to live side-by-side with the Germans who are occupying the area. The German soldiers live in their houses and are part of their everyday life. They are not mean or horrible, they are just soldiers following orders. Some of them are liekable. Some of them are possible to fall in love with. I thought these issues were very interestingly portrayed, very thought-provoking.
This wasn't a page-turner and I found some sections difficult to get through. But it's a book worth reading because it shows part of history and it does so in a beautiful and human way.
Challenges: 1% Well-Read Challenge, 999 Challenge, A-Z Challenge, Banned Book Challenge, Countdown Challenge, Jewish Literature, Orbis Terrarum, War through the Generations