I posted an essay on The Millions last week about that phenomenon where a startlingly huge number of books are titled “The ___’s Daughter.” (Seriously, once you start noticing them, they’re everywhere.) It took forever, but it was fun to write. I broke out the PowerPoint. There are wildly…
Némirovsky writes with tremendous compassion, particularly for the utterly blameless Michauds, but she is unsparing in her assessment of her crueler and more thoughtless characters. Following the exodus in “Storm in June,” the second-oldest Péricand child — Hubert, a teenager — sits in a church and contemplates his family’s behavior during their flight from the city:
He judged his family with bitterness and a painful harshness. His grievances whirled around in his mind in the form of brief, violent images, without him being able to express them clearly: …their cars full to bursting with fine linen and silver caught up among the refugees, and his mother, pointing to women and children forced to walk with just a few bits of clothing wrapped in a piece of cloth, saying, “Do you see how good our Lord Jesus is? Just think, we could be those unfortunate wretches!” Hypocrites, frauds!
It’s a cliché to say that times of disaster and upheaval reveal us for who we are, but I believe there’s some truth to it. Irène Némirovsky’s characters are variously revealed by war and dangerous politics to be weak, courageous, venal, or honorable, and she knew of what she wrote.
Excerpted from Emily St. John Mandel’s “Irène Némirovsky, Suite Française, and The Mirador” which was nominated for the 3 Quarks Daily Literary Award.
It wasn’t that I sat down one day and decided to write a book about kisses. I am not that clever. But ever since my memoir “Reading Lips A Memoir of Kisses” sold to Unbridled Books people have said things to me like, “Brilliant!” Or, “Why didn’t I think of that?” As though I actually had made a plan and then stuck to it…
— from One Kiss is Never Enough, an essay by Claudia Sternbach