The city is a whirl of decadence and corruption and he embarks on a life of parties and shady business dealings, as well as an illicit affair.
But as another war threatens, everything around him starts to crumble and the future for him and for France suddenly looks dangerously uncertain.
Irène Némirovsky has long been a favourite author of mine and is definitely one of the best 20th century authors, sadly still criminally under recognised by readers out there. Her ability to clearly convey human nature is incisive and dramatic but most of all beautifully accomplished.
The first chapter contains a wonderful Champs-Élysées family scene, which was perfectly executed and was made all the more poignant knowing the events that history is rushing inexorably toward. I would have been happy to stay in that place and just wish these people well but sadly that is not life.
Perhaps they have now gone too far to step back and feel we’re on the brink of an abyss? But what is certain is that it will be the young men who are first to fall into that abyss.
It’s a hard book to read knowing what will befall nations and tear apart of families. The problem with Némirovsky’s characters – which goes for all her books – is that they are so well realised and penned that it becomes hard to see them suffer on their journeys. Even the characters one dislikes demand a certain sympathy as their flaws are something we can all relate to as much as their fears and expectations. Read the rest of this entry »