Suite Française, by Irène Némirovsky

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The Independent Culture

Némirovsky's rediscovered masterwork comes trailing clouds of glory - and of doom. Readers new to this fast-flowing epic of the fall of France in 1940, who know of the author's death in Auschwitz, may not yet grasp just how witty, mischievous and romantic it is. The first half (in Sandra Smith's superb translation) explodes in vivid fragments of satire and compassion as Paris flees; the second finds an eerie serenity in defeat. This miracle of a novel plucks tenderness from the heart of tragedy.