I had mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand it was fabulous; the writing was excellent and the story totally absorbing (translation done right as opposed to the Stieg Larsson mess). However, and here is where I'm torn, the threads . . . oh, the threads. I realize the word 'Suite' refers to (thank you dictionary app) 'A group of things belonging together', which in this case means 'A group of stories belonging together', but there were so many stories and characters I felt like I should be keeping notes. Not really what I was expecting outside of a Charles Dickens tome. Suite Française is basically one event (the first half, 'Storm in June') and then one setting (the second half, 'Dolce') from the perspectives of upwards of 30 characters, all with their own thoughts, personalities and relationships. The family house cat even weighed-in. Mon Dieu, exhausting! It all worked, though. The connections took shape to form a more complete narrative. The reader gets a real sense of the human condition -sometimes awful, sometimes surprisingly tender- during wartime. I just started losing patience with everyone's threads toward the end of the book and was looking forward to some closure. But of course closure never comes -it's wartime after all- the stories just stop. And that's okay too.
The fact that Némirovsky wrote this during the German occupation of France is amazing. She was living the very same, and worse, horrors that she portrays in her book, and yet she writes with such insight and generosity that one might think this true fiction written from a safe distance. The stories themselves may be fictional, but their essence is real. Némirovsky died in Auschwitz in 1942.
Visit the author's website for more information.