The Dogs and the Wolves, By Irène Némirovsky

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The Independent Culture

First published in 1940, Némirovsky's novel takes its redolent title from the French expression for dusk "entre chien et loup": a time when our perceptions dim.

The novel opens in a Ukranian city, home to branches of the Sinner family. Wealthy Sinners live on top of the hill, the poor relations near the river. When both families decamp to pre-war Paris their paths cross, largely thanks to the arc of a passionate love affair.

As in Suite Française, questions of assimilation, both individual and collective, lie at the heart of the novel. Its free-spirited heroine, Ada, is left choosing between Harry, the pretty, petted son of a rich financier, and Ben, a "macher" from the same shtetl. Sandra Smith is Némirovsky's all-seeing translator.