At the beginning of each month some wonderful people at LibriVox’s website (I have no idea who) post a blog on a particular subject. This month’s subject was about some of the French authors whose works have been recorded in LibriVox. Reading the blog made it tempting to listen to at least one of them. However, this year I promised myself to read at least one “real book” each month. In spite of having an overabundance of actual books, I don’t do that often enough. At one of last year’s local library book sales I spent $1 for a taped shut, paper bag of 10 paperbacks. The give-away price and element of surprise were all I needed. I bought the mystery bag and brought the books home to live among my other unread reading material. At that time I also promised myself that I would actually make an effort to begin reading these “paper bag books” (I did read one last year) and other “real books” that had been patiently waiting on shelves for umpteen years.
When I read the LibriVox blog on “French Kiss” I remembered that one of the books from the library sale was French themed, so I picked it for one of this month’s reads. The book was “Suite Francaise” by Irene Nemirovsky. I had never heard of the book or the writer. Although I’ve enjoyed reading since childhood, I don’t pay much attention to best-seller lists and don’t read reviews very often. I don’t think I read anything about this book when it came out in 2005, although it was written several decades before that. No, it would be better to say that it was “created”. I could join the many people who have read this book and commented about it and the author. But in this era of Internet access, anyone can “Google” the book title and author’s name to learn just how powerful this book is. Not perfect, but one of those books that sometimes makes a person stop and exclaim “Oh my God…”
Reading how the author’s children kept their mother’s manuscript throughout the years because it was a part of her is easy to relate to – even for those of us whose parents lived long and happy lives. That the manuscript was eventually given to the world is a gift that I will not forget and always appreciate.
A few pages before the book begins is a brief description of the author which ends with the statement: “She died in 1942.” A very simple statement for a person living in a complex, often tragic time. Very simply put. But Ms. Nemirovsky’s notes on the book, her correspondence, the devotion of her children who guarded the manuscript and eventually brought her work back to life says so much more than that.
I’m glad that I followed through with the March LibriVox theme and read a book written about France by a woman who lived in France most of her life. But the theme was about French writers and she wasn’t actually French. Now I wonder…would her life have turned out differently if she were?