Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More Suite

So the story of Suite Francaise is interesting, but what about the stories in the book? They are quite good indeed. The first half, Storm in June, reminded me of the chaotic retreat scene in Atonement. It features a range of Parisians fleeing the German advance and as they flee, social niceties tend to fall to the wayside. Nemirovsky paints a dark picture of her fellow French. Few if any people do anything other than save their own skins. She puts a great emphasis on contrast between self-image and behavior. Among the most appaling people is the artist, who will happily take advantage of the downtrodden before reaching his comfortable coastal hotel.

The second half of the book is set in a French village where a German regiment comes to winter before the invasion in Russia. This story doesn't work quite as well as the first, but it also shows the varied reactions to occupation. The most insufferable are those who use the Germans to punish those they personally dislike. The aristocrats in the town are particularly odious. The tensions felt by the citizenry as the they try to get along without collaborating are treated well, with a good amount of nuance.

This end of the book is the set up for combining the characters from the two halfs in the unwritten third volume. The book contains Nemirovsky's notes about her plans for the book which make for interesting reading and day dreaming about what the book might have been.

No comments: