Tuesday, 10 March 2009

suite francaise

I have just finished reading Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky, published more than 60 years after her death in a Nazi concentration camp. The book itself is perceptive, sad and, at times, very funny (the author character, Gabriel Corte is hideous and hilarious!) but Appendix II is heartbreaking - letters from Irène before her arrest and then from her husband - wondering what has happened to her, trying to get her out and, in desperation, to swap places with her. Many are written, unknown to him, after she was already dead, only a few weeks after her arrest. Her husband was himself arrested a few months later and sent straight to the gas chamber, while her two small daughters managed to evade capture by hiding in various cellars aided by familyfriends. Horrible. I can't imagine what it must have been like to live through those times.

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