Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Suite Francaise

I go through phases with reading novels. For a time, I will read novels rapaciously, one after the next. Novels are the books that I cannot put down. I have stayed up all night reading: The Great Gatsby, Slaughterhouse Five, Barney's Version, The Brothers Karamazov. Then I will go through months, years! of not cracking a novel, consumed as I can get with the stuff of my last post. But recently a good friend and colleague (another Matthew), recommended Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky. She wrote it during the Nazi occupation of France, before perishing in the death camp of Auschwistz. Her daughters protected the manuscript, thinking it was a journal, only to find out later it was a breathtaking fiction. Only recently was it translated from the French. I started it last night, and read the first several chapters. It has the feel, even in translation, of a classic. So, if you're the novel-reading sort, I recommend Suite Francaise.



Blogger Rachel said...

Ah, novels...the bane of my existence! I can never put them down - it doesn't even seem to matter if I've read them before, I'm enslaved until I find out how it ends. I picked up Jane Austen's "Emma" a couple weeks ago, hoping it would be boring enough that I'd be able to put it down and get some stuff done around here, and it ended up sucking me in too! I loved it - finished it in about 3 days. Sigh. Maybe I should commit to doing all the readings I skipped during my degree and leave novels alone for a while.

1:11 PM  
Blogger papa herman said...

What a beautiful act done by the daughters to protect the manuscript.

Imagine what possible lengths the daughters must have gone to... there is a story in this as well.

6:51 PM  
Blogger Simply Victoria said...

yes, I am a victim to the novel. every night, it is my bedtime ritual, to read myself to sleep, and I am a little heartbroken every time I finish a book, thinking: "Will I ever love another book again?" (of course, some have been less worth the effort)

I'm reading Bluest Eye right now by Toni Morrison. It's so beautifully written.

12:50 PM  
Blogger D. Ian Dalrymple said...

Thanks for the recommendation. Speaking of novels and France, ever read any Jean Giono? I've been hovering around a couple of his novels for months now, but I'm waiting for someone to actually recommend one...

9:39 AM  
Blogger cyrilla said...

I myself just finished a book in 3 days... even though I hadn't slept all weekend (women's retreat!) I couldn't sleep on sunday until i finished the book! This one sounds like a worthy investment.

6:15 PM  
Blogger Eric said...


Your post reminded me that I read "Peace Shall Destroy Many", which you recommended a while back. I'm not sure that I enjoyed the style of writing, but the subject and story were compelling. Every so often I struggle with the tension between peace and killing. These days, as one writer has put it in First Things, there seems to be a 'presumption against war' that stronly influences public responses to military action.

Responsibility and peace, responsibility and killing. Strange dynamic. I think I'll always have a hard time with it, especially living in Canada where it's easy not to kill because it's easy not to be killed and not to watch people suffer violence.

I read a horrific short story yesterday, 'This Way for the Gas', that I think I will re-visit a few times this Lent. If you wanted to take a look go to:

and read the post 'At Home in Auschwitz'. Before you read it, keep in mind the word, Horrific. The use of the name, Canada, sheds a dark light on the challenges presented in "Peace Shall Destroy Many."

Peace in Christ,


10:29 AM  

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