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September 2007

A new treasure unearthed by Némirovsky’s biographers: another never-before-published novel from the author of the #1 bestselling Suite française.

This perfect gem of a novel was discovered only recently in separate archive files. A few pages were in the famous suitcase that Irène Némirovsky’s daughters saved, but the balance had been deposited with a very close friend during the war. A morality tale with doubtful morals, a story of murder, love and betrayal in rural France, Fire in the Blood, planned in 1937 and written in 1941, is set in a small village (based on Issy l’Evèque, where Suite française was written), and brilliantly prefigures the village community in her later masterpiece.

Fire in the Blood is a beautiful chamber piece which starts quietly, lyrically, but then races away with revelations and narrative twists in a story about young women forced into marriages with old men, about mothers and daughters, stepmothers and stepdaughters, youthful passions and the regrets of old age, about peasant communities and the ways they hide their secrets. Némirovsky looks at her characters, both young and old, with the same clear-eyed distance and humanity as she displayed in Suite française, unpeeling layer after layer. As atmospheric and haunting as Sándor Márai’s Embers, and with the crystalline perfection of Chekhov, Fire in the Blood is another gripping literary find.

Title: Fire in the Blood
Author: Irène Némirovsky
Translator: Sandra Smith
Publisher: Knopf Canada
Pub Date: September 2007
Price: $29.95

ISBN: 978-0-676-97980-0 (0-676-97980-7)

Number of pages: 160


September 2006

Irène Némirovsky’s brilliant 1940 novel Suite française was a surprise bestseller earlier this year (2006). Némirovsky published more than a dozen novels and several biographies in her short lifetime, achieving acclaim in her adopted country of France. But information about the life and career of the Russian-born Jewish novelist, who died in Auschwitz in 1942 at the age of 39, has been scarce. This short critical biography by Weiss, an expert on contemporary French literature, is a fine introduction to her work. Némirovsky attained literary stature in France in 1930 with the publication of David Golder, a satiric portrait of the Parisian Jewish business community. Weiss’s analysis of the Jewish press’s negative response to David Golder (they “reeled, as if struck by a bomb”) is excellent. Némirovsky continued to have a fruitful literary career until her deportation to Auschwitz. Weiss offers a discussion of Némirovsky’s 1939 conversion to Catholicism, which appears to have been sincere although at the same time she was exploring the personal meaning of Judaism in her life. At times Weiss relies too heavily on autobiographical readings of Némirovsky’s novels, but such a tack is understandable given that we are in the early stages of scholarly work to be done, of which this is a fascinating and important beginning.

Title: Irene Nemirovsky: Her Life And Works
Author: Jonathan Weiss
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Pub Date: September 2006
Price: $16.47

ISBN: 978-0804754811 (0804754810)

Number of pages: 224

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