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Suite Francaise Audiobook, by Irène Némirovsky Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Irène Némirovsky Narrator: Daniel Oreskes, Barbara Rosenblat Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2013 ISBN: 9780804148726
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By the early l940s, when Ukrainian-born Irène Némirovsky began working on what would become Suite Française—the first two parts of a planned five-part novel—she was already a highly successful writer living in Paris. But she was also a Jew, and in 1942 she was arrested and deported to Auschwitz: a month later she was dead at the age of thirty-nine. Two years earlier, living in a small village in central France—where she, her husband, and their two small daughters had fled in a vain attempt to elude the Nazisshe’d begun her novel, a luminous portrayal of a human drama in which she herself would become a victim. When she was arrested, she had completed two parts of the epic, the handwritten manuscripts of which were hidden in a suitcase that her daughters would take with them into hiding and eventually into freedom. Sixty-four years later, at long last, we can read Némirovsky’s literary masterpiece

The first part, “A Storm in June,” opens in the chaos of the massive 1940 exodus from Paris on the eve of the Nazi invasion during which several families and individuals are thrown together under circumstances beyond their control. They share nothing but the harsh demands of survival—some trying to maintain lives of privilege, others struggling simply to preserve their lives—but soon, all together, they will be forced to face the awful exigencies of physical and emotional displacement, and the annihilation of the world they know. In the second part, “Dolce,” we enter the increasingly complex life of a German-occupied provincial village. Coexisting uneasily with the soldiers billeted among them, the villagers—from aristocrats to shopkeepers to peasants—cope as best they can. Some choose resistance, others collaboration, and as their community is transformed by these acts, the lives of these these men and women reveal nothing less than the very essence of humanity.

Suite Française is a singularly piercing evocation—at once subtle and severe, deeply compassionate and fiercely ironic—of life and death in occupied France, and a brilliant, profoundly moving work of art. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • Extraordinary . . . A work of Proustian scope and delicacy, by turns funny and deeply moving, that captures a civilization in its most revealing moment: that of its undoing. Lev Grossman, Time“Stories about World War II seem to occur in black and white, all grainy and bleak. That makes the stunning novel Suite Française, about the German occupation of France, all the more remarkable. As the book opens and the Nazis approach the outskirts of Paris, the June skies are gorgeously bright; later, the narrative is rich with evocations of blossoms and trees heavy with fruit, of fragrant air and the sounds of birds–as well as a scene where a cat claws a bird to death and stabs its tiny heart. Lush beauty is the backdrop to dark events, and so is natural cruelty. The characters who populate this sweeping saga of violence and survival–and who exhibit far more self-interest than virtue–are described with the same gleaming precision. The author of Suite Française is one of the most fascinating literary figures you’ve never heard of–and her own tragic story only deepens the impact of her book . . . The [book’s] first part, ‘Storm in June,’ depicts in brilliant detail the tumultuous exodus from Paris in the summer of 1940 . . . There are harrowing scenes on the roads jammed with refugees . . . The second part, ‘Dolce,’ is quieter, if no less ominous. Set in an occupied village, it delineates the tangled emotions of the conquered and the conquerors . . . Suite Française–gripping, clear-eyed and lyrical–doesn’t seem incomplete. Yet as wonderful as it is, when you read Némirovsky’s notes, included in an appendix, you see the scope of her ambition and you mourn. She was planning a kind of "War and Peace" for the 20th century and, tragically, she never saw how her story could end.
  • A 2007 Book Sense Book of the Year Honoree for Adult Fiction
  • One of the 2006 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction

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About the Author

Irène Némirovsky (1903–1942), was born in Kiev, Ukraine, into a wealthy banking family and emigrated to France during the Russian Revolution. After attending the Sorbonne in Paris, she began to write and swiftly achieved success with David Golder, which was followed by more than a dozen other books. Throughout her lifetime she published widely in French newspapers and literary journals. She died in Auschwitz in 1942. More than sixty years later, Suite Française was published posthumously, for the first time. It became an international bestseller, with nearly a million copies in print in the United States alone.

About the Narrators

Daniel Oreskes is a narrator as well as a film, television, and stage actor. He has earned two AudioFile Earphones Awards for his narrations and has twice been a finalist for the Audie Award, including for 2012 Audiobook of the Year. His several film roles include The Thomas Crown Affair and Day Zero, and his many television credits include episodes of  Law & Order. He has acted on Broadway in Electra and Aida and in the off-Broadway Arthur Miller play Mr. Peters’ Connections with Peter Falk, as well as in numerous Shakespeare performances. A native New Yorker, he trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

Barbara Rosenblat, one of the most awarded narrators in the business, was selected by AudioFile magazine as one of the Golden Voices of the Twentieth Century. She has received the prestigious Audie Award multiple times and has earned more than fifty AudioFile Earphones Awards. She has also appeared in film, television, and theater, both in London’s West End and on Broadway.