Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fire in the Blood by Irene Nemirovsky

Image from amazon

Like Suite Francaise, Irene Nemirovsky's brilliantly executed novel Fire in the Blood bears witness to the culture of an insular segment of French society in the years before World War II. Published in 2007, it was widely reviewed.

The reader, Mark Bramhall, inhabits the character of Uncle Silvio with flawless precision as he unfolds this tale of family secrets, lies, and hidden passions. Silvio is old; in his youth he travelled to exotic places and wasted his fortune. Now he has turned his back on the memory of his early years. Yet when he is forced once more to witness the violence aroused by passion, Silvio is forced to thaw his frozen emotions and recall a past when he too harboured "fire in the blood."

Irene Nemirovsky was born in Kiev in 1903 but at the time of the Russian Revolution, her family left for Paris and settled in France.

Nemirovsky was a successful writer long before WWII. She published a novel called David Golder in 1935, and penned many short stories and novels that bear historical witness to the world she inhabited before her tragic early death in Auschwitz in 1942.

The story of how her later novels survived is almost miraculous. Foreseeing the possibility of being taken to the camps, Nemirovsky and her husband David Epstein arranged with friends and publishers for the protection and education of their children in case they did not survive the war. Although they both died in the camps, a trunk containing the manuscript of Suite Francaise and other papers escaped German-occupied France along with Nemirovsky's two young daughters. Of the the planned suite of five novels, only two were complete, with notes made for the rest.  

Suite Francaise was published in 2006 after Denise and Elizabeth rediscovered it, nearly sixty years after they were spirited out of German-occupied France. In 2010, a life of Nemirovsky was published by two French biographers.

The Museum of Jewish History in New York created an exhibition about this remarkable Woman of Letters.

No comments:

Post a Comment