(not a challenge to read 2015 books – explanation here)
#7 in the challenge is Suite Francaise by Irène Némirovsky.
Yes, I copied and pasted to get the accents right.
This was recommended by a friend who has lived in France, and with the emphasis on “read it before the film comes out”. The film has been reviewed unfavourably everywhere I’ve seen it, and described as a prettied-up romance.
I felt that this book was more like a piece of music than a story. It was beautifully written and there were wonderfully expressed emotions and feelings and atmospheres. The tension of the exodus from Paris was palpable. The conflicted feelings about “the enemy” who were also young men far from home reminded me a bit of some of the “nature of personhood” issues that crop up in science fiction.
Sadly I didn’t feel engaged with the characters, and I can see why a film adaptation would want to focus on a characater-led story rather than an atmosphere-led piece.
It was also VERY FRENCH. I was reading in English and the translator had clearly done a brilliant job in keeping the Frenchness. Even the nighttime activities of a cat were expressed in a dramatic and indulgent way, as if the cat were an old luvvie (one who pronounces it ac-TOR) narrating his everyday life as if it were a grand tragedy.