It was tough for me to pick which of the four Némirovsky books, that I have read to date, I should review first. After much deliberation (two minutes of staring at the books and a few sips of lemon and lime flavoured mineral water) I chose this one. Which is not to say that The Dogs and the Wolves, Fire in the Blood and All Our Worldly Goods are anything but first rate in themselves, just that this one especially impressed me.
The story starts in a courtroom, in which the sensational case of Gladys Eysenach, who is accused of killing her young lover, is taking place. Without giving anything away the trial reaches a conclusion fairly early on and then we get to the bit of the book that makes it stand out from all her other works, for me.
We get a glimpse in Eysenach’s past, detailing her life from the age of 18 to present. As she is a rich heiress we are introduced to her hectic social life, her affairs and marriages etc.
What impresses about this, the larger section of the book, is the brutal and unflinching honesty about women and how they view their social rivals. For a chap such as myself who finds the opposite sex a confusing conundrum that can only be worked out by understanding a language not yet invented, it made a powerful impression on me and gave me a really insight into how the female mind works.
As well as all that it’s interesting to see how little the obsession with youth has changed since the 1930s and indeed the general self obsession of a certain section of society today. Mix the social and cultural commentary in with a dollop of dark drama and nice slice of auto biography and you are in for a treat.
As with all Némirovsky’s work, it’s something to be soaked up and lived through. It’s more of an experience than a mere story well told. And although I was out of my depth with all the feminine stuff going on and all the social etiquette that men just don’t have, or care about, it was still thoroughly enjoyable. I’d tell you more but I’d hate to detract from your enjoyment of this fine book.