The Bottom Line
Suite Française is a poignant, important piece of literature that creates a very intimate portrait of French life in the early 1940s. As an unfinished work of fiction, however, it is a somewhat unsatisfying read.
- Well-written and detailed, Suite Française shows Némirovsky's skill as a writer
- Each chapter recounts intimate details of daily life, giving a glimpse into another time
- Némirovsky's unique position while writing the novel makes it particularly poignant
- The pace is slow, and it is hard to get into the story
- As an unfinished work, there is no ending, which is unsatisfying in fiction
- Suite Française is two novellas--one about the German invasion and one about the beginning of the occupation.
- Irène Némirovsky introduces many different characters and moves between their experiences.
- The novel looks at relationships between families, social classes, and the Germans and French.
Guide Review - Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky - Book Review
On the other hand, the book was slow and ultimately unsatisfying as a novel since it has no ending. Némirovsky invests time describing characters and situations that never rise to importance because the novel is less than half finished. When I first picked it up, I had trouble reading more than a chapter at a time. It was beautifully written, but didn't grab my attention. By the time the pages started turning, it was almost over, and I could only glean what would have happened in the rest of the novel from Némirovsky's notes, which were included as an appendix.
I recommend Suite Française to anyone who wants an intelligent book to read a little at a time. It is not a page turner, but it is beautiful and thought provoking. It would be especially interesting to anyone who likes French history or World War II. Excerpts of the book would be appropriate for classes to study.