Jackie reviewed this book a long time ago. Rather than add a comment to her review, I've added this so it won't go unnoticed. Jackie suggested it and I started slowly. It's not a mystery or history or biography, just a story of different people fleeing Paris as the Germans advance in WWII and later the dynamics of the occupation of a small French town after the surrender. The more I read, the more I kept picking it up with greater frequency. The writer did not leave in a spare word or miss the mark on any description, be it a garden in spring or the different feelings of characters. By the end, I didn't want the book to end.
Maybe that reluctance was because the author, a Russian transpanted Jew in France since 1920, did not intend the book to end where it did. She saw what was happening to occupied France and knew her days were numbered. She intended the book to have two more major segments (the book is divided into two now) and you can see her intent in the first appendix. The second appendix is correspondence between the author and others as she attempted to keep going under every more severe circumstances. The letters from her husband attempting to have her set free once she was sent to the camps break your heart. Finally, the preface to the French addition behind the two appendicies give a sketch of her family life from prior to her birth to after her death. That story in itself would make a novel worth reading.
You seldom see books written this well, with people drawn so true-to-life without a lot of fluff. Yet it is not a sparse book. The story is rich and compelling. I said this was not a mystery, history or biography. There is no mystery in the broad flow of these people's lives and the things that happen to them make sense. It's not a history but may be a better glimpse into occupied France than anything else I've encounter. Finally, the description of Ms. Nemirovsky's life and that of her family in the last few pages are as moving as any biography I've encountered. I recommend this book to everyone.