This is an unusual book. Collected from bits and scraps of a plan for a book written by the author in the early years of World War II, it was published only recently after the author's daughter finally managed to overcome her pain and bring herself to read the manuscripts, 60+ years after they've been written. The collected manuscripts contained only a part of the book Némirovsky intended to write. Therefore, there much incoherency on the macro level - characters appear and disappear, some of them incomplete and unconnected, and in many places (especially the second part) the book doesn't seem to have any visible plot. However, on the micro level, it is obvious that the writer was very talented, since the writing is beautiful. She manages to describe both physical nature and human nature in an extremely lucid way, which is a pleasure to read. The characters that do appear are developed quite well, and it is easy to see which feelings and ideas they represent. Moreover, having been collected from Némirovsky's workbook, the stories give a unique glimpse into the working of an author. This is especially enforced by the direct presentation of some parts of her manuscript in an appendix. How the author creates characters, connects them, builds up their lives - it is interesting to follow this process. The story itself is about a bunch of French families in the first two years of the war. France was quickly defeated and occupied by Germany. Contrary to many other books, this one doesn't focus on the atrocities the Nazis did. Quite on the contrary, it actually says almost nothing bad about the Germans and displays them as ordinary people, not much different from the French themselves, who also just want the war to end and to be able to come back to their families. The most touching part of this book is the second appendix, however, where a sequence of letters and telegrams between Némirovsky's husband and some friends of the family in Paris are presented. Némirovsky herself is arrested (for being Jewish and of Russian descent) and is sent to a concentration camp in France, from which she's transferred to Aushwitz, where she promptly dies. Her husband is unaware of this sad end, and tries to use contacts to release her from the camp. The sequence of letters reads like a thriller, and knowing that it's a real story is very touching. I don't know whether to recommend this book. The only thing I can say for sure is that from the scraps of stories I saw in this book, the author was a very talented writer. Perhaps, had I read her other books (she published several full books before the war), it would be very interesting for me to read this one as her last story and the events of her last days.


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