Though I have only been to Paris once and with a six year in tow, I have a wonderful set of brown leather boots, some great photos and a suitcase of fond memories that make this big city may favorite.
Let me forewarn you, this is not a romantic story of Paris; well, not in the traditional sense of the word "romantic", but I found it quite lovely and touching and heartbreaking, isn't that romance? Quite contrary to our traditional sense of romance, Suite Française, Irène Némirovsky's masterpiece is a unique work of fiction about the chaotic exodus from Paris in June, 1940, as the invading German army approaches, and the complex life of an occupied village a year later.
Disturbing and complex in many ways, it is a book that I struggled with lending out because I had such an emotional connection to it. It was brought to me by a book club through the public library where I was the youngest woman by at least thirty years (I loved it by the way!). Some of the women can recall being children when this was happening, some of their families left France for America. Powerful.
I read this book about a year and a half after having been widowed by Operation Iraqi Freedom. I probably shouldn't have read it so close to the funeral, but I felt like I could handle it and did because of the strength of those families who dealt with and lived life through a war in their homeland. This has never been asked of me. While my life was turned upside down because of a war fought in a foreign land, much of the rest of my world was maintained; something these families can not say was true for them.
A piece of fiction, yes, but I believe that fiction stems and grows from truth.
I need to go back and read it again, perhaps while I am on summer break. I did not read the letters in the back (those were real) and other book club members shared that those were almost more enjoyable and intriguing than the book itself. If that is true, I believe that I will need a box of Kleenex and my next trip to Paris to visit some of these villages on my calendar.