Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky 
Unfinished, published in 2004
“It’s a truism that people are complicated, multifaceted, contradictory, surprising, but it takes the advent of war or other momentous events to be able to see it. It is the most fascinating and the most dreadful of spectacles, she continued thinking, the most dreadful because it’s so real; you can never pride yourself on truly knowing the sea unless you’ve seen it both calm and in a storm. Only the person who has observed men and women at times like this, she thought, can be said to know them. And to know themselves.”
Storm in June, the first part, tells the story of a handful Parisians who flee the city during the German invasion in 1940. Their escapes are chaotic and many families are split up on the road. The second part, Dolce, describes the everyday life in a small rural community after the ceasefire and the villagers are forced to have Germans living in their houses.

Irène never got to finish her book as she was deported to Auschwitz and died there in 1942. I couldn’t help wondering what a great book it could have been if she had been able to finish it. In the appendixes she describes the occupation and her plans for the book. Reading the first part was as chaotic as the chaos the characters felt when they fled from Paris. There were a lot of characters and I had problems with who was who. I definitely liked the second part better, and I found that I had time to reflect on the story yet the feeling that I was reading an unfinished work never went away.

I liked Iréne’s style, and I have put the Wine of Solitude on my wish list because I want to read something that was published during her life time, along with a biography about her.  I’m also questioning the need to put this unfinished work on the 1001 books you need to read before you die list as I don’t think it’s a masterpiece.

This was the February read in Line’s 1001 books challenge.